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Diabetes and sport

November marks diabetes awareness month and to raise awareness local charity Diabetes Gibraltar has written articles highlighting the symptoms, treatment and stories of those living with diabetes.

Being a mum to a Type 1 child is challenging. At diagnosis you’re thrown right into the deep end. Even with a wonderful diabetic nurse supporting you, nothing prepares you for going home and having to live with Type 1 every single day.

When your child has Type 1, you have to constantly think about blood glucose levels, day and night, and make the necessary adjustments to keep your child safe. You live with constant anxiety about ‘what could happen’ regarding blood levels. Our natural instinct might be to protect them, to take all dangers away from our child but instead you have to be strong and not let diabetes stop you. We have to teach our Type 1 children to be stronger and independent much earlier than other children as they learn to manage their own Type 1 as they grow up.

There are many aspects of life they need to learn to juggle and manage and one very important one is sport.

Callum Goldwin’s mum talks about how they work together with his training team to ensure he is safe whilst enjoying his beloved football.

Can you exercise and do sports if you have type 1 diabetes?

A question raised by many, the answer is absolutely YES you can, in fact you can do anything you set your mind to, however you just have to take some extra steps to make sure you can do it safely. Exercise and sport can affect your blood glucose levels depending on the type of activity you do it may cause your blood glucose levels to rise (hyperglycaemia) or drop (hypoglycaemia).

Callum aged 11 years old belongs to Lincoln Red Imps Football Club and plays football for prolonged periods of time, attending regular training sessions. Callum will have to ensure he eats a certain amount of carbohydrates to avoid having a hypo during training and also make sure he is properly hydrated at all times, he will scan his arm with his phone to keep track of his glucose levels making sure they stay in range before and during the training session.

Callum has to pack extra snacks and sweets to ensure he has sufficient at all times, his glucose levels tend to rise during training, however this is monitored by scanning his sensor half way through the session or at half time if it is a match. After any intense sport session his glucose levels need to be monitored closely to ensure they don’t drop drastically, this is usually during the night and on many occasions, I have had to wake him to give him something like a sun cola and a snack to get him through the hypo safely.

Callum enjoys most sports and diabetes does not stop him working towards his goals, he was recently nominated Sports Boy of the Year 2022, a real achievement. However, it is tough and there are days when his body doesn’t respond like it should and mentally becomes a challenge, but Callum deals with his condition brilliantly, but also has days when he has just had enough, playing sports with diabetes is not just a physical challenge but a mental one too, Type 1 has no respite and is a 24-hour management game.

It is imperative that team mates, coaches and everyone around him are aware of the symptoms should he suffer a hypo / hyper and they are aware of what he needs. The bigger the support network, the more awareness raised, the safer and better chances of success at the sport!

To other children enjoying sport and battling Type 1, don’t give up, don’t let it stop you and most of all you can do it by just taking a few more steps than your peers.


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