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Health Information For Teens
Making changes now can lower the risk of health problems later for teens with diabetes. This includes eating right, getting regular exercise, and taking medicine as directed by the diabetes health care team.
Doctors talk a lot about keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Here’s why: Diabetes problems that happen later in life are often linked to higher blood sugar levels over a long period of time.
Diabetes can cause problems that don’t show up for many years. These can happen over time without causing symptoms.
Parts of the body that diabetes can affect later in life include:
People with diabetes are at risk for eye problems, including:
Doctors think that people with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts if they have high blood sugar levels over a long period of time. If cataracts get in the way of seeing properly, a person can have surgery to remove them.
Retinopathy is more likely to become a problem in people with diabetes if they have high blood sugar levels over a long period of time, if they have high blood pressure, or if they use smoke or chew tobacco.
Regular yearly eye exams can help doctors find retinopathy early, before it can lead to vision loss. A person with diabetes may be able to slow or reverse the damage caused by retinopathy by improving blood sugar control.
Your doctor will check your eyes for early signs of these problems during routine exams. He or she may also recommend that you see an ophthalmologist (pronounced: opf-thul-MAH-luh-jist, a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the eye) or optometrist (pronounced: op-TAH-muh-trist, a person who examines your eyes and tests your vision).
Keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure levels under control and not using tobacco may also help you avoid eye problems linked to diabetes.
When blood sugar is high, it can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney disease. This is sometimes called diabetic nephropathy (pronounced: neh-FRAH-puh-thee).
Kidney disease is more likely in people who haven’t controlled their blood sugar levels over a long period of time. Kidney disease can get worse if someone also has high blood pressure or uses tobacco.
If doctors find kidney disease early, the damage can sometimes be reversed with treatment.
If the kidney disease gets worse, a person may need dialysis (regular use of a machine to clean the blood as the kidneys normally would) or a kidney transplant. The good news is that these days kidney disease is less likely to end up as kidney failure because of earlier detection and better treatment than in the past.
People who have had diabetes for a long time might develop a type of nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy (pronounced: noo-RAH-puh-thee).
Diabetic neuropathy can affect nerves in many different parts of the body. The most common early symptoms are numbness, tingling, or sharp pains in the feet or lower legs.
Doctors believe that nerve damage is linked to high blood sugar levels over time. So controlling blood sugar levels by following a diabetes treatment plan can help reduce a person’s risk of developing this problem.
Someone who has had diabetes for many years can develop foot problems because of poor blood flow in the feet and nerve damage.
Your doctor will check your feet for any signs of problems. Tell your doctor about any foot problems, such as ingrown toenails, calluses, and dry skin. Even if your feet just feel irritated because you’ve been wearing certain shoes or because you’ve had a minor sports injury, tell your doctor.
To prevent foot problems, wear comfortable shoes that fit well and keep your toenails trimmed to the shape of the toe. Exercise, which increases blood flow to the feet, can also help keep feet healthy.
People with diabetes are at a higher risk for some problems with the heart and blood vessels. (These are called cardiovascular diseases.) These include:
How well blood sugar is managed likely plays a role in heart and blood vessel problems, too.
To reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, try to keep a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, your doctor can suggest ways to help you lose weight and stay there. The doctor may also check your blood lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) and blood pressure regularly to be sure they’re in a healthy range.
Follow your diabetes meal plan, get regular exercise, don’t smoke, and take diabetes medicines as prescribed to help prevent or delay these problems.
People with diabetes are more likely than others to develop gum disease (also called periodontal disease) because they may have:
Signs of gum disease include bleeding, sensitive, and painful gums. The gums may also recede (receding gums no longer cover the root surfaces of teeth) or be discolored. Dentists can diagnose gum disease during regular checkups.
You can help prevent gum disease by managing your blood sugar levels, taking good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing daily, and getting regular dental checkups.
Follow your diabetes management plan and take an active role in your health by getting regular medical care and checkups with your diabetes health care team. They can find many diabetes problems early and help you get the treatment you need.
Our Diabetes Center provides information and advice for teens about treating and living with diabetes.
Weight can influence diabetes, and diabetes can influence weight. Managing weight can really make a difference in a person’s diabetes management plan.
A couple of pounds of extra body fat are not a health risk for most people. But when people are severely overweight, it can cause health problems.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is more common in adults, but it can happen at any age. Learn what it is and how to treat it.
People who have diabetes may hear or read a lot about controlling, or managing, the condition. But what is diabetes control and why is it so important?
Gum disease doesn’t just happen to people your grandparents’ age – it can happen to teens too. Get the details here.
It takes all of your team members â you, your parents, doctors, certified diabetes educators, dietitians, and mental health pros â to help you take care of your diabetes.
Sometimes, the kidneys can’t do their job properly. In teens, kidney disease is usually due to infections, structural issues, glomerulonephritis, or nephrotic syndrome.
The kidneys perform several functions that are essential to health, the most important of which are to filter blood and produce urine.
Teens with diabetes can exercise and play sports at the same level as everyone else, so whether you want to go for the gold or just go hiking in your hometown, diabetes shouldn’t hold you back.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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