From: The School Nurse
Subject: Diabetes

Diabetes is not an infectious disease. It results from failure of the pancreas to make a sufficient amount of insulin. Without insulin food cannot be used properly. Diabetes currently cannot be cured but can be controlled. Treatment consists of injections of insulin at least twice daily and a prescribed meal plan. A student with diabetes can participate in all school activities and should not be considered different from other students.

Insulin reactions occur when the amount of sugar in the blood is too low. This is caused by an imbalance of insulin, exercise, and food. Under these circumstances the body sends out numerous warning signs. If these signs are recognized early, reactions may be promptly terminated by giving some form of sugar. If a reaction is not treated, unconsciousness and convulsions may result. The student may recognize many of the following warning signs of low blood sugar and should be encouraged to report them. Many students require nourishment before strenuous exercise. Teachers and nurses should have sugar available at all times. The student with diabetes should also carry a sugar supply and be permitted to treat a reaction when it occurs. (See Treatment Plan for Hypoglycemia.)

High blood sugars are usually not a concern at school. Coma and death are serious complications of the disease, resulting from uncontrolled diabetes (i.e., high blood sugars). However, they do not come on suddenly and generally do not constitute an emergency situation. Children with diabetes do need to be allowed bathroom privileges and access to water when blood sugars are high. (See Treatment Plan for Hypoglycemia.)

Students with diabetes follow a prescribed meal plan and may select their foods from the school lunch menu or bring their own lunch. A midmorning and/or a midafternoon snack may be necessary to help avoid insulin reactions.

The amount of sugar in the blood of a student with diabetes can be checked with special equipment. Checking the blood for sugar several times a day serves as an effective guide to proper diabetes control. Blood sugar checks should be made before meals, and time should be allowed before lunch for the child with diabetes to do this.