Diabetes Concerns in High School
High school brings with it a host of issues to discuss with your teen/adolescent with type 1 diabetes, and keeping an open dialogue about these issues can enable your teen/adolescent to take more control of their diabetes care—and during this pivotal life stage, they are most likely ready for more responsibility.
For example, talk to your teen/adolescent about:
- Sports: High school sports can be very intense, and while of course your teen/adolescent can participate, he or she needs to know how often to check blood glucose levels during games or matches, what to do if they’re low, and even the basics of how exercise affects their body. They also need to know how to adjust their medications to reduce the risk of low blood glucose.
Laying a foundation early of healthy and safe exercise will help your teen/adolescent in the long-run.
- Alcohol: It is possible that your teen will drink in high school, even though they are not supposed to. However, since they have type 1 diabetes, alcohol can affect them in a different (and potentially dangerous) way. Talk to your teen about how alcohol interacts with their body (always, of course, with the caveat that they shouldn’t be drinking before it’s legal). They may need strategies in place to help them avoid peer pressure—when all their friends are drinking at a party, how will they say no?
- Driving: Your teen needs to know that there will be times when he or she can’t drive because their levels are too low. What is too low? How do they feel when they’re too low? What should they do in that situation? Help your teen build a plan for driving safely—and knowing when they shouldn’t.
Also, by late high school, your teen is relatively independent (although they probably think they’re more independent than you think they are!). In their junior or senior year, they generally should be able to attend appointments on their own (or at least a portion of them without you), but again, that depends on the maturity level of your teen.
Getting your teen ready to leave home to go to college or into the workforce after high school is a big process. By taking advantage of the “teaching moments” that come your way during high school, you can help prepare them for good diabetes control later in life.