My son has Type 1 Diabetes.
However, there is an overwhelming amount of people with Type 2 Diabetes all over the world, and the Middle East is not immune to that trend. In fact, some countries in this region have some of the highest incidents of Type 2 Diabetes compared to the rest of the world. Type 2 and “pre-diabetes” are also seen in teens and young adults.
So while we always see images of senior citizens in Type 2 Diabetes ads, it’s not always the case that this is a disease for older people. Some populations are genetically prone to develop it at younger ages.
What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the body stops producing insulin altogether. This is typically autoimmune related. It was not caused by food, but food has a lot to do with how it is managed. Type 1s need insulin to survive.
In Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas can make insulin, but not enough of it. Or, that insulin is not able to get where it needs to in order to create energy in the body. Sometimes Type 2 patients take insulin, sometimes not.
There is no cure for diabetes, but leading institutions share the belief that you can often manage your Type 2 to decrease the amount of medication you require, or delay the requirement of medication.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes At School
So if you have a Type 2 child going to school, what should you do?
- Tell those who need to know. Of course you can advocate and share information about Type 2 with others, but at minimum, those closest to you or your child need to know. This includes the school nurse, teachers, coaches, close friends, bus drivers and any other personnel on the school bus.
- Make sure your child has their medical supplies with them at school, or kept in a safe place where they can easily access them when they need them. This includes their glucometer, medicine if prescribed, treatment for low blood sugars, etc.
- Speak to your child’s doctor or nutritionist about how to handle school parties and food.
- Focus on healthy eating and learn about what food best fuels your child’s body to help manage diabetes.
- School can be stressful, especially during exam time. It may affect blood sugars as do the hormones in our bodies that change as we grow. Ask your child’s doctor how to manage blood sugar fluctuations that result from school stress.
- Don’t underestimate the value of activity. Playing sports, or even going for a walk will help manage stress and blood sugars.
Meet with your teacher and school nurse to discuss the above and make a plan. Managing Type 2 is not always easy, and having support at school will make it easier.
And whatever you do, help your child not be ashamed of their condition. They did not choose diabetes. It chose them. There is continued compelling research out there that indicates Type 2 Diabetes is the result of genetic factors.
Do not let diabetes stop your child from achieving their goals!