What is diabetes?

diabetesDiabetes is a long-term medical condition where the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.
This happens because:

  • The pancreas does not make any or enough insulin.
  • The insulin does not work properly.
  • Sometimes it can be a combination of both.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. Children or young people with this form of diabetes need to replace their missing insulin, so will need to take insulin (usually by injection or pump therapy) for the rest of their lives.

Type 1 diabetes usually appears before the age of 40 and most pupils with diabetes will have Type 1 diabetes. Nobody knows for sure why this type of diabetes develops. There is nothing a pupil with Type 1 diabetes or their parents could have done to prevent it.

More than 15,000 school-age children in the UK have Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). In most cases this is linked with being overweight. This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, although in South Asian and Black people it often appears earlier – usually after the age of 25.

However, recently more children and young people are being diagnosed with the condition, some as young as seven.

The diabetes section of the ‘Medical Conditions at School: A Policy Resource Pack’ provides information to school staff on diabetes, including its symptoms, medication and treatments, triggers and emergency procedures.

To find out more about diabetes download the diabetes section or, if you haven’t already done so, register for access to our download section.

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