Diabetes – What you need to know

A basic understanding of diabetes and its management is important for you to feel confident in looking after the child with type 1 diabetes and for the parent to be comfortable leaving their child in your care.

 Even if you know a little bit about diabetes, always listen to the child’s parents – they know their child and their child’s diabetes best. Although the child may have had diabetes for some time, they always require adult supervision.

What is diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that acts as a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the blood stream into the cells to provide energy. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed during childhood or young adulthood, but can occur at any age.

What causes type 1 diabetes?

Some people carry genes which might make them more likely to get type 1 diabetes. However, it only develops in these people when something triggers the immune system to destroy the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. These triggers are thought to be factors in the environment, but as yet are not well understood.

Type 1 diabetes is not related to lifestyle or caused by eating too many sweets. It’s not possible to catch diabetes from somebody else.

How is type 1 diabetes treated?

  • Replacing insulin by injection several times a day or by insulin pump
  • Testing blood glucose levels (BGLs) several times a day
  • Following a healthy eating plan, including regular consumption of carbohydrate containing food
  • Being physically active
  • Having regular medical check ups with the diabetes team
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