Dealing with diabetes as a teenager can be hard, especially when you have to fit diabetes management into your school day. From finding the time to check your blood sugar between classes to navigating the complex emotions that often come with diagnosis, teenagers often face unique and sometimes overwhelming challenges. Getting support and choosing the right tools can help you establish self-care practices that work for you.
The Challenges of Managing Diabetes at School
Teenagers with diabetes don’t always make diabetes management a priority, possibly due to embarrassment, inconvenience, or not feeling a sense of urgency about long-term health. But managing your blood sugar and practicing self-care are essential to protecting your well-being both now and in the future.
Blood glucose monitoring is a key element of diabetes management. Typically, the best times to monitor are before meals and snacks, before and after physical activity, and when you have symptoms of high or low blood sugar. Your healthcare provider can tell you when and how often you should be checking.
Unfortunately, the school environment can make it difficult to stay on track. If you’re using a traditional blood glucose meter (BGM), finding the time and an appropriate place to check your levels is often challenging, especially if the best times to check are during classes. The same is true if you need to manage symptoms of high or low blood sugar. Not only is this inconvenient, it can also make you miss important class time.
The extra care required to manage diabetes can leave you feeling frustrated, self-conscious, or embarrassed. It can be tempting to skip blood sugar checks and ignore your treatment plan while at school. But staying committed to your routine is important—and you don’t have to do it alone.
Break Through Stigma and Find Support
Finding allies and building a support system is invaluable when you’re dealing with diabetes as a teenager at school. The following tips will help you get started:
- Confide in friends. While it may be hard to open up at first, true friends are there to support you. Talking to your friends helps you process your emotions and helps them understand what you’re going through.
- Reach out to staff and faculty. Talking to your teachers, the nurse, and the administration will ensure that you have the support you need to manage your diabetes when you’re at school. This is particularly important if you need to be excused from class for regular blood glucose monitoring or you need permission to eat in class. Connecting with staff and faculty also gives them an opportunity to create a 504 plan to help you if you have a blood sugar event.
- Communicate with family. Speak with your family if you’re having trouble managing your diabetes at school or you’re feeling uncomfortable. Being honest about what you’re experiencing helps your family find solutions that work for you.
Find the right tools. Choosing a device that lets you check your blood sugar quickly and discreetly can be key to staying on top of your blood sugar levels at school. Consider the following:
- Continuous glucose monitor (CGM): A CGM uses a sensor inserted under your skin to continuously monitor glucose levels. The sensor is connected to a transmitter that sends readings to a monitor or your smartphone, which means you can check your glucose anytime you want.
- Automatic blood glucose monitor (ABGM): Unlike a traditional BGM, which requires separate test strips and lancets, an ABGM uses multi-test cartridges with test strips and lancets built in. Instead of handling multiple components, you simply press a button and get accurate results in seconds.
These steps can make a real difference for teenagers who are dealing with diabetes.
Make Dealing With Diabetes As a Teenager Easier
When you’re living with diabetes, it’s important to be your own advocate. That means understanding your needs and finding strategies to meet them. If you’re struggling to keep up with blood glucose monitoring at school, the best strategy could be switching to the POGO Automatic® Monitor.
POGO Automatic is a pocket-sized ABGM that lances and collects blood in one simple step. With POGO Automatic, the lancets and test strips are inside the 10-test cartridges, which makes checking your blood sugar easy and discreet. You can even test while keeping the device concealed in your bag. There’s only one thing to carry, and you can stay on track with your glucose monitoring virtually anywhere you choose, including in the classroom, without everyone noticing.
With POGO Automatic, your results are automatically uploaded to the free Patterns® for POGO Automatic app. This simple glucose monitoring app lets you see your blood sugar trends at a glance and provides insight into your glucose control that you can share with your family and healthcare provider. It can also send you reminders when it’s time to check your blood sugar and alert you to blood sugar events—important features when the school day gets busy.
Starting good diabetes management habits now will set you up for lifelong success managing diabetes.
Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.