Diabetes in the Child Care Setting
What is it?
Diabetes is a serious illness in which the body is unable to properly change sugar from food into energy. A simple sugar called glucose is the main source of energy for our body. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas—a large gland behind the stomach—helps the body to use the glucose for energy.
Diabetes happens when the body does not produce enough insulin (Type 1 or insulin-dependent), or use it properly (Type 2 or non-insulin-dependent). As a result glucose begins to builds up in the blood, creating high sugar levels in the body.
Children with diabetes usually have Type 1 diabetes, in which the body does not make insulin. They therefore need daily injections of insulin.
Who gets it and how?
Approximately 127,000 American children, including 15,000 in California, have Type I diabetes. At some time, child care providers are likely to have a child with diabetes in their care.
Diabetes is not contagious. People cannot catch it from each other. At present, scientists do not know exactly what causes diabetes, but they believe that both genetic factors and viruses are involved. Diabetes can run in families.
What are the symptoms?
Two kinds of problems occur when the body does not make insulin:
- Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, occurs with both types of diabetes when the body does not have enough insulin. Symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, irritability and poor sleep, nausea and vomiting, and weakness and blurred vision.
- Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is more common in people with Type 1 diabetes. It is also sometimes called “insulin reaction” or “insulin shock.” Symptoms may include hunger, pale skin, weakness, dizziness, headache, shakiness, changes in mood or behavior (irritability, crying, poor coordination), sweating, and rapid pulse. Treatment commonly involves quickly restoring glucose levels to normal with a sugary food or drink such as cola, orange juice, candy, or glucose tablets.
If not treated properly, it can result in loss of consciousness and life-threatening coma.
Reprinted with the permission of the California Childcare Health Program.
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