Navigating Summer with Juvenile Diabetes

Navigating Summer with Juvenile Diabetes

Words by Paige Townley 

Summer is a time for kids to run, play, and enjoy the freedom of the outdoors. But for children with diabetes, managing their condition during the summer months comes with a few extra considerations.

"A lot of people think people with diabetes can’t do the same things as people without diabetes. They can do anything any other child can do. They just need to incorporate diabetes into their life. That’s usually the general misconception people have about diabetes," says Nicole Hallanger, diabetes program coordinator at Children’s of Alabama. "One of the best things I’ve ever heard is, 'I can do anything except make insulin.' That’s more the general misconception people have about diabetes."

To ensure a safe and enjoyable summer, Nicole emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated and monitoring blood sugar levels more frequently, especially in the heat. "Kids are more active during the summer running and playing, so keep lots of testing supplies on hand and lots of snacks to check for low blood sugars and treat them if they occur," she advises. "On the flip side, they could have higher blood sugars because of the heat, so they need to be checking more often to make sure blood sugars are staying in range."

For families planning summer travel, Nicole recommends packing extra diabetes supplies and obtaining a travel letter if flying or visiting amusement parks. "Some places require bag checks or limit items you can bring with you. Since it is important for kids with diabetes to take diabetic supplies with them, a travel letter would allow accommodations to be made during those situations," she explains.

Parents of younger children face unique challenges during the summer months, especially if they are working while their kids are at home. "They need to stay in contact with kids to make sure doses are being delivered appropriately for their insulin," says Nicole. "Finding someone who is trained to take care of a child with diabetes can be a challenge sometimes for parents."

Children’s of Alabama is committed to supporting families affected by juvenile diabetes through educational events and programs. The hospital is taking part in educational opportunities to share invaluable insights and updates with school nurses over the summer, and they even work with families that need additional members to pitch in and help manage diabetic needs at home with classes that can be taken at the hospital. Not overlooking the children themselves, Children’s Diabetes Education Team is also involved in Camp Seale Harris activities over the summer. Camp Seale Harris is specifically designed for children with diabetes, with all of the camp workers and counselors fully trained and able to manage diabetes.

Managing juvenile diabetes can be overwhelming, but with the right knowledge and support, families can enjoy a safe and memorable summer together. "Diabetes is a very overwhelming disease because it never stops,” Nicole adds. “Families who have kids with diabetes don’t get a break in the summer. But the good news is that friends and family and neighbors can become educated to help care for the children with diabetes. Becoming educated themselves is the biggest way they can support.”