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Caring for Children with Type 1 Diabetes

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What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Diabetes wellness

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disorder that prevents one’s body from getting energy from food. Most cases of type 1 diabetes start in children 12 to 13 years old.

In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, a hormone produced by specialized beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin is vital because it controls the amount of sugar (glucose) absorbed by body cells from the blood. The body needs sugar for energy. People with diabetes have too much sugar in the blood, and not enough glucose gets into bode cells.

What Causes Diabetes?

A lack of insulin in the blood is the cause of diabetes. In most diabetic people, the body’s defence, the immune system, destroys beta cells in the pancreas. The exact reason behind this autoimmune attack isn’t known.

Other causes can include various diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, as well as the surgical removal or severe inflammation (swelling, irritation) of the pancreas.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Diabetes warning signs include frequent urination, feeling very thirsty and hungry, losing weight quickly, and feeling tired and weak. Symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes also include blurred vision or blindness, slow-healing skin sores, numbness in hands or feet, and kidney failure. This last symptom can lead to patients needing dialysis.

In diabetic ketoacidosis, another complication of diabetes, substances, known as ketones, form when fats break down faster than the kidney can remove them. Ketones in the blood make the blood dangerously acidic, which affects numerous organs, including the brain.

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Typically, a health care provider will use a patient’s previous medical history, combined with a physical examination, and several measures of the patient’s blood sugar (fasting level, average level during 2 to 3 months, and glucose tolerance test.)

The health care provider may test the kidney function with a serum creatine level test, and check the urine with a urine micro-albumin level test.

How Is Diabetes Treated?

For most patients, a special diet can help them control their blood sugar. A trained nutritionist can help manage this diet. Patients can also use a glucometer can be used to check blood sugar levels.

Healthy diets can help treat diabetes symptoms.

Health care providers will explain to patients how to give insulin injections at home. Children 7 to 10 years old can often check their own blood sugar levels. Children can also learn how to watch for signs of low blood sugar. At 10 to 12 years old, children can even learn how to give themselves insulin injections.

Health care providers will develop exercise and fitness regimens, as exercise can affect blood sugar levels.

Regular foot care and eye checkups are needed to prevent complications.
Having your child under the care of an endocrinologist, in addition to their family doctor, can also help prevent complications from diabetes.

Dos and DON’Ts in Managing Type 1 Diabetes

  • DO prepare the special diet and have the child eat snacks at the same time every day, as instructed by your health care provider.
  • DO make sure that the child gets enough exercise and sleep.
  • DO check the child’s blood sugar level when they fall ill. Call your health care provider if your child has a fever, nausea, or vomiting and can’t keep down solids or liquids.
  • DO call your health care provider right away if the child’s blood sugar level is too high.
  • DO take the child to the hospital right away if he or she has a seizure, can’t wake up, or loses consciousness.
  • DO follow the doctor’s orders about insulin.
  • DO give the child a sugary snack or glass of orange juice if their blood sugar level is too low. If you do this, make sure to call their doctor to adjust future insulin doses.
  • DON’T let the child eat too much sugar
  • DON’T give the child too much insulin.
  • DON’T let the child become dehydrated.
  • DON’T serve foods that are not suggested by the child’s health care provider.

Role of Pharmacy Assistants in Managing Type 1 Diabetes

A Pharmacy Assistant can help provide focused care to Canada’s rapidly growing number of patients with diabetes and other endocrine conditions. Pharmacy assistants will be in charge of entering and managing patient pharmacy profiles and entering, filling and preparing medications for patients with diabetes, both over-the-counter and prescription.

Role of Medical Office Assistants in Type 1 Diabetes

Heritage College Medical Office Assistant

As the front-line of healthcare in many clinics, a medical office assistant will proactively identify patients with diabetes, and determine how they would benefit from an office visit. Medical office assistants will also review medical adherence according to clinical guidelines, and order labs and prescription refills based on protocols.

If you, or anyone you know, have diabetes, consider taking Heritage College’s Diabetes Education course. This one-day class covers many topics that will enable you to manage the disease better and improve their quality of life.


  • Merck Manual 2018, Merck Publishing
  • Ferri’s Netter Advisor for Health Professionals

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