What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes Mellitus is a disease resulting from a lack of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. Without it, carbohydrate (starch and sugars) in the food we eat cannot be converted into the energy (called glucose) required to sustain life. Instead the unused glucose accumulates into the blood and spills out into the urine.
Children and adolescents with diabetes are unable to make any insulin and must take insulin injections each day.
At this time no one knows why children develop diabetes. It is known, however, that this disease is not the result of poor eating habits, nor is it infectious.
The Balancing Act
The treatment of diabetes can be viewed as a balancing act. Food, on the one side, increases the amount of glucose in the blood. Exercise and insulin on the other side, lower the blood glucose level by allowing the glucose to be used for energy. Blood glucose testing done by the children with diabetes or the parents is a means of monitoring the blood glucose balance. When the blood glucose is in proper balance, the child/adolescent will feel well. In terms of academic performance, physical activity and attendance at school, the teacher’s expectations of students should be the same as if he or she did not have diabetes.