Type 1 diabetes and high school

As teens become more independent in high school, they also take on more responsibility managing their diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means that that the body attacks its own insulin producing cells. Without insulin in the body, sugar builds up in the blood instead of entering cells to produce energy. This disease is also called “juvenile” diabetes because it is most frequently diagnosed in childhood years.

Managing type 1 diabetes is an important yet challenging task because insulin needs to be administered frequently throughout the day. Younger children likely have someone to manage their type 1 diabetes for them, but as they get older, they need to be able to manage it themselves. For teenagers, it can be even more challenging as different variables become a part of everyday life such as social norms, sports, and clubs when entering high school. This chart shows how high school students may feel and the tasks they perform to manage their disease.

Tia Geri was a freshman in high school when she shared some tips to manage diabetes in school:

  • Tell your teachers
  • Tell your friends
  • Keep extra supplies
  • Never take tests/quizzes when blood sugar is low

These tips explain the difference it can make when people know about your type 1 diabetes and the importance of keeping it under control. Teachers will understand why you need to eat a snack in class; friends can be helpful if they understand the severity of managing type 1 diabetes. Performance in school is better when you prioritize your blood sugar.

Overall, it is important to understand that type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease and, although high school is a lot to handle as it is, finding the time and making the effort to manage the disease will likely result in less stress and better outcomes.

For the best diabetes care, always check with your healthcare team. For more information on diabetes visit the Michigan State University Extension webpage on diabetes.

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