Diabetes – (Dye-ah-beet-ees)

What is it?

Diabetes is a  disease that  affects how your body uses sugar or glucose (the fancy word for sugar). Glucose is the ‘fuel’ your body needs to do everything from blinking and breathing to running for the bus.

First you need to know what a pancreas (Pan- kree-uhs) is:
A pancreas is an organ (like the heart or lungs) that hides behind the stomach, and it produces liquid to help break down food in your stomach and other chemicals.



When it’s working well here is how it looks:
1. You have something to eat
2. Sugar (glucose) from your food enters your blood
3. Your pancreas makes a hormone (a clever chemical in your body) called insulin
4. Insulin acts like a taxi and helps the glucose get delivered to cells
5. Those cells get the energy to do their important jobs and continue bodily function.

When it’s not working well here is how it looks:

1. You have something to eat
2. Sugar from your food enters your blood
3. Your pancreas can’t make the hormone insulin – this is what happens in type 1 diabetes
4. There are no taxi’s available for glucose to get to cells
5. This causes a build up of insulin in the blood – not good for the body.






Type 1 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes  the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood  becomes too high. This happens because your body cannot produce enough of a hormone called insulin. In order to control this people with Type 1 diabetes need a daily injection of insulin to keep their blood glucoses levels under control. This can be very scary at first. Some people feel embarrassed about managing their diabetes at school and are worried about not wanting other people to know about it.

However, its important that people with medical conditions speak to their teachers so that they are aware and they will support you to manage your diabetes in a way you are comfortable with. This may be the first time that you have had to manage it as well, at primary school the teachers probably managed it for you.

It’s important that people with Type 1 diabetes are checking their blood sugar levels throughout the day they will have a special testing kit to do this. Good times to test your blood sugar levels would be if you are experiencing symptoms of high or low sugar levels and at break times, if you feel tired or are having difficulty concentrating, this can sometimes be a sign that your sugar levels are too high or too low. That’s why you may see people checking their sugar levels throughout the day.

To learn more about blood sugar levels as well as how to manage them in school please visit Diabetes UK. 

To watch a video about how to test your blood sugar please visit Diabetes UK

People who have Type 1 diabetes will visit a specialist diabetes nurse who will discuss the best ways to control and monitor their diabetes and also teach them how to complete things like blood sugar testing and insulin injections. Not everyone will manage their diabetes in the same way.

To learn more about insulin injections and to watch a video please visit Diabetes UK





How do you know if you might have diabetes type 1?

1. Pee a lot
2. Feel tired a lot
3. Drink a lot
4. Lose weight
5. Eat a lot

How do you know if you have diabetes type 2?

1. Pee a lot
2. Feel tired a lot
3. Blurry vision
4. Lose weight
5. Eat a lot

If you have said yes to any of these questions speak to a trusted adult, like your parents, teacher or doctor. If you would like to speak to your school nurse about it – contact chat health.



Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is slightly different: 

1.You have something to eat

2.Sugar from your food enters you blood

3.Your pancreas makes the hormone insulin but its faulty

4.The Insulin (taxi’s) break down or get a flat tyre before delivering the glucose to cells

5.The glucose gets out of the taxi and remains in the blood – not good for the body.

The good news is Type 2 diabetes can be stopped if you notice it early, so to do this make sure you:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat more vegetables, wholegrains and fruits
  • Eat less fried foods, takeaways and sugary snacks.
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water a day

For more information about healthy eating please visit our healthy diet page

For more information about Type 2 diabetes please visit Diabetes UK