There is often confusion about diabetes. People get the types
mixed up, don't know the symptoms or how to provide practical
support to someone they know or who is in their care. Remember,
Diabetes Queensland is only a phone call away. You can
contact our friendly customer service team on 1300
What is diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes) is the world's fastest growing
chronic disease. It occurs when the body cannot produce enough
insulin, or when the insulin the body makes does not work
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. After food is
digested, carbohydrates in the food are broken down into glucose
which then enters the blood stream. Insulin enables the body to use
glucose for energy.
Type 1 diabetes is most commonly found in children and
adolescents, but can occur at any age. It occurs because the
pancreas loses the ability to make insulin and is a lifelong
condition. People with type 1 diabetes need to be given insulin to
Type 2 diabetes is different from type 1
diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes are able to make
insulin but when it is released into the blood stream it is unable
to work properly.
Other types of diabetes include gestational diabetes, which
occurs in women during pregnancy, and pre-diabetes, which
occurs as a result of increased blood glucose levels (BGLs).
It is all about the balance
Managing all types of diabetes is about maintaining a balance
between factors which lower blood glucose levels (BGLs) like
insulin and exercise, and those which raise blood glucose levels
(BGLs), such as food and stress hormones. It is all about
understanding and learning to make adjustments to lifestyle
accounting for these factors.
Importantly, with planning and support, students can participate
safely and have a productive, fun time at school.
Although managing diabetes may seem daunting at first, it does
not prevent people with all types of diabetes from living a full
and happy life.
In fact, people with all types of diabetes should follow the
same healthy eating guidelines as anyone else. For example,
to manage diabetes it is important to eat a balanced diet
high in fibre, low in saturated fat, and containing low glycaemic
index (low GI) carbohydrates that provide the body with necessary
fuel and nutrients.
If you would like to know more about healthy shopping and
eating, it's worth visiting Healthy
Shopping online guide, which has lots of information
about living well. To visit Healthy Shopping click here.
Developing an understanding
The following is an explanation of some of the terms you may
come across if you have contact with someone living with
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. The body uses
insulin to move glucose from the blood stream into cells where it
is used as energy.
Insulin is required when the body is not producing its own
insulin. It is taken as an injection or by an insulin
Blood glucose monitoring
Blood glucose monitoring is an important part of diabetes
management. It is carried out by pricking a finger with a device
called a lancet, to obtain a drop of blood. A meter then determines
the amount of glucose in that blood sample.
Blood glucose testing is essential to monitor:
- the effect of food, activity and insulin
- hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia
- diabetes management when the student is unwell
Hypoglycaemia (often called a 'hypo') is a low blood glucose
level (BGL) which occurs when there is not enough glucose in the
blood stream for the body to function.
A hypo may be caused by:
- too much insulin
- the amount of physical activity undertaken (in relation to type
of carbohydrate timing and insulin doses)
- not eating enough carbohydrates
- an excess of excitement and stress (mood changes)
- too much alcohol
- temperature extremes
Hyperglycaemia is a high blood glucose level (BGL) when there is
too much glucose in the blood stream. The blood glucose level is
(BGL) usually above 15mmol/L.
High blood glucose levels (BGLs) can be caused by:
- the body not producing enough insulin
- eating too much carbohydrate-rich food
- sickness or infection
- reduced physical routine
For more information on the basics of diabetes, refer
to Students with diabetes - Guidelines for Queensland