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The Sweet Life: Surviving Summer with Childhood Diabetes

Summertime is fast approaching! Here are a few suggestions to help your child stay healthy while enjoying all that the season has to offer.

Going on vacation?

  • Pack contact information for your child’s endocrinologist, including his or her on-call number. Take multiple emergency forms that list your child’s current medications, allergies, blood glucose monitoring schedule, and insulin administration plan. Keep all of this information in a number of places, including in your purse, on your phone, and in your luggage.
  • Do some research on your vacation location. Look for emergency providers and pharmacies that will accept your insurance. Write down their contact information or save it in your phone so you have it at your fingertips.
  • If you’re traveling to a foreign country, learn how to say some key words and phrases in the local language. These should include “help,” “I have diabetes,” “I need sugar,” and “ambulance.”
  • Before you leave your house, make sure you have packed all the necessary diabetes supplies. Don’t forget extra batteries!
    • If you find that you didn’t pack enough medicine or supplies to get through the vacation, call the pharmacy number on the back of your child’s insurance card and ask how to obtain an early refill.
  • Prepare a small cooler with ice packs for medications that need to be refrigerated/needles. If you are flying, check the TSA website for more information on getting through security with these supplies.


Planning to be physically active?

  • Don’t let your child become dehydrated! Dehydration increases blood sugar levels. Keep a water bottle with you and encourage your child to drink, drink, drink!
  • Exercise can lower your blood sugar levels, even hours after the activity. Your child’s blood sugar level should be checked before the exercise and after, especially if the activity is long and/or strenuous.
  • Always have a source of sugar on hand, such as glucose tablets, candy, or juice.


Spending the day in the sun?

  • Make sure your child uses sunscreen. Sunburn can cause your child to become dehydrated.
  • Take frequent breaks in shaded areas.
  • Pack healthy, durable snacks, such as an apple and peanut butter, string cheese, nuts, or veggie sticks.


Thinking about a diabetes camp?

  • Go for it! Children have fun at diabetes camps, and they make lifelong friends with whom they can identify.
  • Your child can get support from professionals and the other campers while learning about diabetes and becoming independent.
  • You will get a break and have a chance to take care of yourself!
  • To find a diabetes camp near you, visit


Action Items:

UPMC Health Plan Special Needs Unit:  Case Managers: 1-866-778-6073