What is diabetes?
Diabetes means that your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is needed to fuel our bodies. Glucose is also stored in our liver and muscles. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for energy. But having too much glucose in your blood is not healthy. An organ called the pancreas makes insulin. Insulin helps glucose get from your blood into your cells. Cells take the glucose and turn it into energy.
If you have diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin or your cells cannot use insulin very well. Glucose builds up in your blood and cannot get into your cells. If your blood glucose stays too high, it can damage many parts of the body such as the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. It is very important to keep your blood sugar at a safe level through careful monitoring with parents, nurses’ and teachers’ help.
In type 1 diabetes, the cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed. If you have type 1 diabetes, you need to get insulin from shots or a pump everyday. Most teens can learn to adjust the amount of insulin they take according to their physical activity and eating patterns. This makes it easier to manage your diabetes when you have a busy schedule. Type 1 used to be called “insulin dependent” or “juvenile” diabetes.
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes some insulin but cells cannot use it very well. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may need to take insulin or pills to help your body’s supply of insulin work better. Type 2 used to be called “adult onset diabetes.” Now more teens are getting type 2, especially if they are overweight.
(via the National Institutes of Health: National Diabetes Education Program)
Managing Diabetes in School
Children with Type I or II Diabetes may need extra provisions during the school day. They often need to have their blood sugar measured multiple times, and carbohydrates counted from meals to make sure the correct amount of insulin medication is given. School Nurses play an integral role in keeping students healthy and their blood sugars at a safe level while at school. Be sure to talk with the student’s primary health care provider and your school nurse to complete an Individual Collaborative Health Plan to address the child’s needs and a 504 plan if necessary.
Please view the page on Medication Administration in Schools before sending in any prescriptions or medications for your child.