Child Friendly

Type 1 Diabetes

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There’s a lot going on in your body to give you the energy your body needs. You need energy to run, swim, dance or play in your backyard. Your body uses sugar (called glucose) as fuel for energy. Just like a car uses fuel from a gas station to run, you get your fuel for energy by eating. Foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, fruit, yogurt and milk have sugar in them.

When you eat, the sugar goes into your blood. To make your body work, the sugar needs to go from the blood into the cells. That’s where insulin shows up! Insulin is made in a part of your body near the stomach called the pancreas. Insulin acts like a key for a door into the cell. Insulin opens the door to let the sugar go from the blood into the cells.

If you have diabetes, the insulin does not work like it should. If the insulin isn’t able to open the door into the cell, then the sugar stays in the blood. When the amount of sugar in your blood gets too high, it can make you sick.

With Type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not make enough insulin. You didn’t do anything wrong to get diabetes. Neither did your parents. You didn’t get diabetes because you ate too much sugar. Sometimes, it just happens that you have diabetes.

There is a team of people that will help you learn how to take care of your diabetes, like doctors, nurses, dietitians, diabetes educators, social workers, parents and friends. That way, you’ll be able to continue doing the things you enjoy doing like playing soccer or hanging out with your friends!

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The good news is your diabetes can be treated. There are a few things you’ll need to do, and your parents and doctors can help you.

Since your body is not making enough insulin, you’ll need to get your insulin another way. It’s something you’ll need to do every day. You might get your insulin from an insulin pen, an insulin pump or a syringe. Doctors at Riley at IU Health will start you with a syringe. Your diabetes team will show your parents how to use the syringe to give you insulin. You can watch your parents to learn how this works.

There are two kinds of insulin you will need to take. Long-acting insulin lasts in your body for about one day. The other kind works faster, and you usually take it before meals. Your doctor will tell you what is right for you.

You will have to track your blood sugar (the amount of sugar in your blood) before meals and at bedtime each day. You don’t want too much sugar (called high blood sugar) or too little sugar (called low blood sugar) in your blood.

If you don’t have enough insulin in your body, your blood sugar may be at a high level. That might make you feel very thirsty or like you need to use the restroom more than usual. Let your parents know if you think this is happening.

Sometimes, your blood sugar may go too low. This can happen if you eat less than you planned or are more active than you planned. You might feel sweaty, tired, dizzy or hungry. Check your blood sugar if you think it is too low, and let your parents know if you feel this way. Eating something with sugar is the way to bring your sugar back to normal.

Do you want to attend a summer camp to have fun and make friends with others with diabetes? There are lots of options to do that!

  • Camp John Warvel. The American Diabetes Association hosts this camp at Camp Crosley YMCA in northern Indiana. Campers can enjoy all kinds of activities and will have 24-hour medical supervision.
  • Camp Until a Cure. The Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana offers many camps at its Noblesville location. There are several options, including a summer camp, teen camp and family camp.
  • Center for Courageous Kids. This organization in Kentucky offers summer camps and family camps for children with many different illnesses or conditions.

    Visit the links below to learn more about type I diabetes.