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14 Aug 2008 - New to Diabetes

Here is a little bit of basic diabetes information.  This may seem extremely basic, but it will help to easily explain diabetes to those who have been newly diagnosed.  I have also made it very easy to understand for the kids to read themselves.


What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic (lifelong) condition that keeps your body from turning food into energy.  When you have diabetes, you need to take special care of yourself.  Diabetes doesn't have to stop you from living a long, full life!  You can still travel, play sports and eat all of your favorite foods.  With help and guidance from your healthcare team, you can manage your diabetes and stay healthy.

Adjusting to your diagnosis

If you have just been diagnosed, you probably have many questions.  You may feel angry or scared.  This is completely normal!  Even after having diabetes for a long time, these feelings may still come.  Rough days and depression are also normal for both the children and the parent.  Family, friends and support groups like Type 1 Parents, can help you deal with these feelings.

Your Health care Team

Your health care team is made up of your primary care provider/pediatrician, your endocrinologist, a certified diabetes educator (CDE), and a registered dietician.  All of these people make living with diabetes much easier.  They can give you support and advice as well as help with all of your medical issues.  The most important and helpful piece of advice that I can give you is that you need to remember, this group of specialists works for you!!  Make sure that they listen and do what you need them too.


What happens in your body with and without Diabetes

A normal functioning body takes the food you eat and breaks it down into a fuel called glucose.  Glucose leaves the digestive system and enters the bloodstream.  This starts to raise the body's blood sugar level.  Glucose then travels to the bodies cells and is burned as fuel.  When it arrives it needs help to get into the cells.  Insulin is what helps the glucose enter these cells.  Insulin is made by the panreas.  It travels in the blood and acts like a key to unlock each cell so the glucose can enter.  The cell then has the glucose it needs to burn for energy and the blood sugar level remains steady. 

When you have Type 1 Diabetes, your pancreas stops making insulin.  Without it, your cells cannot be unlocked and the glucose will not enter.  This causes the glucose to build up in your blood stream and causes higher and higher blood sugar levels.  This is why you may feel weak and tired. 

When your cells cannot get the glucose they need for energy, they intead start to burn fat.  This leaves behid acids called ketones.  A build up of ketones can cause serious problems anda dangerous condition called ketoacidosis (DKA).

The insulin that is missing in someone with Type 1 Diabetes can be replaced.  The man made insulin that you can inject into your body unlocks your cells so that the glucose can enter.  Your body can now start to use the glucose for energy.  This keeps your body's blood sugar levels in a healthy range.


Please check out the other areas of our resource section for more information on managing your diabetes.

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