Diabetes and Puberty – How Nurses Can Help Teens and Their Parents Manage Blood Glucose

Trenton Jantzi replaces his insulin pump infusion site during a break at school. The high-school senior must change his infusion site every three days. Photo by Mark Ylen / Democrat-Herald. Trenton Jantzi replaces his insulin pump infusion site during a break at school. The high-school senior must change his infusion site every three days. Photo by Mark Ylen / Democrat-Herald.

A new article in AJN gives crucial information on the challenges to managing diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, that are faced by teenagers and their parents during the physical and psychosocial changes of puberty.

Any nurse can tell you that it’s not easy to manage diabetes. I got type 1 diabetes when I was 27 years old and it took me more than ten years to really understand how to balance the effects of diet, exercise, insulin intake, and other factors like illness or stress.

There’s a lot at stake, too, in terms of long-term complications linked to poor blood glucose control, including blindness, heart disease, neuropathy, and a host of other unpleasant complications. In addition, there are serious potential short-term risks of diabetes like hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia that can land you in a coma or worse.

Even with experience in managing diabetes, there are setbacks. Any time of change—moving, illness, a traumatic event, immersion in a new pursuit—presents new challenges, both psychological, practical, and physical.

Remember adolescence? Did you want to act as your own nurse, pharmacist, dietitian, policeman, and […]

July 7th, 2014|Nursing, patient engagement, Patients|1 Comment

Youth with T1 Diabetes Not Meeting A1c Targets: What Can Nurses Do?

By Jeniece Trast, MA, RN, CDE, clinical research nurse manager, certified diabetes educator, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY

bloodglucosetestingDiabetes Care recently published an article showing that our youth with type 1 diabetes, especially those in adolescence, are not meeting glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) clinical guidelines. The HbA1c is a blood test done every two to three months that shows how well controlled the glucose levels were over that time period. As much as this news is disappointing, I am not shocked by it. Type 1 diabetes is a challenging disease to live with at any age; however, the adolescent years definitely intensify the challenge.

As a nurse and certified diabetes educator (CDE), I take on many roles when caring for a teenager with type 1 diabetes: educator, team member, moderator, blood glucose assessor, advocate, cheerleader, and even role model (yes, I have type 1 diabetes also).

Challenges and responsibilities. When caring for these patients, keep in mind that type 1 diabetes is a difficult disease to live with on a day-to-day basis. People with type 1 have lots of important responsibilities just to stay alive: multiple insulin administrations each day; constant blood glucose checking; understanding the effects of exercise on glucose level both during and after exercise; balancing exercise, stress, food, and insulin; providing sick day care; assessing for and treating hypoglycemia; troubleshooting when things […]

February 13th, 2013|nursing perspective|3 Comments