Puberty And Diabetes: Of Flux & Fluctuations

Smoothening out the bumps on your adolescents’ health journey.

Diabetes Care|Apr.24, 2023

A turning point between childhood and young adulthood, adolescence is an age of many transitions, emotional, behavioral and physical. These swings can be a lot...we’ve all been there! It is likely that your child too is dealing with a number of fluctuations, often manifesting in varying energy levels and mood swings. However, sometimes this see-saw can be due to more than the everyday ups and downs that come with social and academic pressures, surging hormones and shifts in lifestyle. Chronic health conditions, like diabetes, can cause or add to these highs and lows as well.

While puberty is a time of innate flux no doubt, studies also suggest that there are links between diabetes and puberty, that could make this phase of life bumpier and tougher for your child to handle. The onset of puberty can also affect diabetes treatment and management in kids. It can be difficult for parent/care-giver and child, alike. Making diabetes management easier for your child (and yourself) at this stage of growth makes for a smoother transition.

It’s important to know of the potential interconnections. Let’s look at a few of the links…

Puberty + Diabetes: Of resistance

There is an influx of certain hormones released during this time of life that can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, such as estrogen in girls and testosterone in boys. This also increases insulin resistance, prohibiting the body from using insulin as effectively as before. Finding your child more sensitive to stress lately? Another hormone said to affect insulin resistance and potentially your child’s behavior during this age is cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’. This stage of adolescence comes with a number of stressors, social and hormonal, and keeping an out for drastic behavioral changes can help identify and treat related health conditions as well.

This is also an age where children are growing and growing up – often eating more to meet their bodies’ demands – again fueling the need for more insulin. It becomes extremely important to keep a tab on sugar levels to fine-tune what your child needs and when, to create effective treatment and management plans to mitigate the effects of these fluctuations.

Diabetes + Puberty: Of impacted Linear Growth

Watching your child hit their growth milestones is a joy of its own. However, if your child already has diabetes, then here’s a few things you need to keep an eye on when they are close to puberty.

Looking over a child’s health condition and dealing with the puberty-related physical and psychological challenges can be tough. However, there are coping measures that can help your child and you navigate these many changes, together…

  • Start with making things easier. Diabetes management comes with a fair bit of monitoring – for glucose levels and the foods and activities that impact these levels. When at an age where your child is probably already averse to someone constantly checking up on them or drawing unwanted attention from their peers, take the help of something that they are familiar with – gadgets! Health tech like sensor-based and pain-free continuous glucose monitors can be extremely helpful, both in having your child’s glucose levels discreetly monitored through the day sans interference, and also with giving them a sense of control over their own health. They can become active participants in their own health journey, without feeling like it is something they are forced to do by their parents or care-givers.
  • Get them to be a part of the process. Help them understand how their bodies work, what it requires and how to understand their health markers better. Knowing the impacts of the various highs and lows, will give them a better sense of why they need to nourish and strengthen their bodies in a particular way.
  • Make key aspects of health management (both for diabetes and puberty) –  like diet and exercise – more enjoyable and purposeful, to find a balance. For instance, healthy, balanced meals with nutrients that their growing bodies require and a little added room for special treats, helps in dealing with the needs of both puberty and diabetes better. Similarly, exercise too plays a big part in helping adolescents be more in tune with their ever-changing bodies. Regular physical activity is essential for managing their diabetes...and growth spurts too! Make mindful movement a part of their daily routine by finding out what kind of activities they truly enjoy, while paying attention to how it impacts their glucose levels.

Growing up is often not easy – for children and parents alike! Puberty, with its many impacts can be turbulent enough, without the addition of a condition like diabetes to the mix. Getting your kids more involved in their health journeys, with the aid of information and health tech, can go a long way in riding out the emotional and physical flux that this age often brings...making every stage of life more pain-free and empowering!

Disclaimer: The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive/for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information.