Puberty's impact on type 1 diabetes

Puberty demands more blood sugar control for type 1 diabetes

You hear the older generation say, “Oh, to be young again!” Whereas the younger generation exclaims, “I can’t wait to be an adult!” Somewhere in the middle is a time called puberty, when bodies are changing, moving from adolescence into young adulthood. What kind of changes can youth with type 1 diabetes expect when entering into this natural progression of change?

What is Puberty?

The CDC defines Puberty as a time in your life when your body makes changes that cause you to develop into an adult. These changes affect both how you look, like growing taller and developing more muscle. They also affect how you feel; one minute you want to be treated like an adult, at other times you want to be treated like a kid.

Puberty’s impact on type 1 diabetes

All youth enter into puberty according to their timing. Physically, puberty begins by “gonadotrophin releasing hormone” from a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland then releases luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone.

Hormones are vigorously active and combined with mental stressors, anxiety, and common feelings of insecurity, life can feel overwhelming. Along with natural, physical and mental transformations teens experience at puberty, blood sugar levels are also influenced. There is a demand on the type 1 diabetic youth to check their blood sugar often. Both physical and mental well-being affects blood sugar levels. During this time of puberty, blood sugar management can be more challenging to manage.

Points to consider

During this time of puberty, type 1 diabetic teens may seek more social acceptance and need more patience from family members. Guidance for parents and friends of teens with type 1 diabetes is to try to keep good communication open. Offering your understanding surrounding the difficulties associated with the day-to-day management of diabetes, expresses you identify with their challenges. Be mindful of any long-standing symptoms like depression, abnormal weight loss or unusual sleep patterns during puberty. A good way to stay involved is to assist the youth with journaling. Track hypoglycemic triggers and help them monitor blood sugar patterns. You’ll be more connected to them, and they will be more in tune with what their bodies are going through.

Get clinical advice

Talk with your diabetes educator or pediatric endocrinologist. Michigan State University Extension recommends you discuss how changes in puberty, hormones, growth and emotional transformations may affect your child’s type 1 diabetes regiment.

For more information on diabetes self-management visit Michigan State University Extension. Additional diabetes resources can be found at Diabetes Advocates, Es Tu Diabetes and Glu. For more information about type 1 diabetes, visit MSU MyType1Hero

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