An increasing number of people are developing diabetes across the nation. The affect on children has become overwhelmingly high. Schools need to educate teachers on the signs and symptoms of the disease to insure the health of students. If school officials and teachers are aware of how diabetes affects children and the signs to look for proper treatment can be achieved without causing severe health complications. Familiarity with hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and the different types of diabetes enables a teacher to respond accurately in the case of an emergency. The paper is used to describe what types of diabetes there are, what symptoms to look for, treatments that are used, and information that is necessary to manage the disease in the classroom.
Diabetes is a disease that affects women, men, and children of all ages. The disease causes the body to ineffectively use glucose, which is a sugar our bodies need for energy. There are two different types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is not preventable and has no true evidence as to why or who will become susceptible. Type 1 diabetes isn’t contagious, so you can’t catch it from another person or pass it along to your friends (Dowshen, 2018). If a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, their immune system goes havoc on the pancreas. The pancreas is what our bodies use to make insulin. Insulin helps get glucose into the cells of the body to form fuel and when the pancreas is being attacked by the immune system, the cells that make insulin are destroyed. Without enough energy the body cannot work properly, and organs will begin to shut down. Type 2 diabetes on the other hand can be prevented and tends to become an issue for obese children and adults. A person that becomes diabetic with type 2 have problems getting insulin to work correctly in the body thus, causing an abnormal amount of sugar to get into the blood. To much sugar in the blood can make a person very sick and even cause death. As a teacher, one must be aware of the signs, symptoms and management of such diseases to insure the health and safety of the students in which they teach.
Signs and Symptoms
Approximately 1 out of every 400 children is diagnosed with diabetes, particularly type 2. It is important that teachers be familiar with the signs, symptoms, and treatment of diabetes because of the number of children with diabetes continues to increase (Marotz, 2015, pp. 96). The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 are very similar. Type 1 tends to begin with the onset of a viral infection and rapidly takes over from there. Type 2 develops at a slower rate and can happen over a greater period of time. Regardless of the time it takes the disease to infect the body, early signs are helpful in determining treatment. Children that have been identified as diabetics reported having frequent urination, excessive thirst, and fatigue in the early stages. Teachers should make note of any student complaining of blurred vision, dry, itchy skin, and/or dehydration as these can be warnings that the child’s body is not working properly. Hair loss, rapid weight loss, and irritability are a few other common symptoms of the disease. By monitoring students and regulating children with diabetes serious complications can be avoided and may even save a life.
Teachers and caregivers should be educated on both types of diabetes. Not only the types of diabetes, but the symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are very important to learn for those caring for diabetic children and teens. When a person is familiar with the warning signs of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia a child can be treated promptly. Hyperglycemia is a state in which blood glucose levels become too high. Frequent urination is a symptom of those that become hyperglycemic. The kidneys respond to high levels of glucose in the bloodstream by flushing out the extra glucose in the urine. A child with diabetes who has hyperglycemia may need to pee more often (Carakushansky, 2016). When a child urinates frequently, they can be pushing out more fluids than they are taking in which causes extreme thirst and/or dehydration. Many children begin to lose weight even though their appetite may rise. Due to the body not having enough insulin, muscle and stored fat begin to break down in an attempt to feed cells with energy. If a child’s body isn’t using glucose correctly, it can cause extreme fatigue.
Hypoglycemia on the other hand is the opposite of hyperglycemia. Blood glucose levels drop too low and cause symptoms to arise. Extreme hunger, cold sweats, headaches, and even seizures can be symptoms that appear when a child is hypoglycemic. Low blood glucose levels usually happen when meals are skipped, the intake of too much insulin, exercises more than usual, and during sleep, also known as nocturnal hypoglycemia. Kids who have nocturnal hypoglycemia may have bouts of crying, nightmares, or night sweats (with damp sheets and/or pajamas) and might wake up groggy or with a headache (Carakushansky, 2016).
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Each person that is affected by diabetes has an individualized treatment plan. The treatment plan needs to be readily understood by teachers, nurses and school personnel to insure students stay healthy while not in their parent’s care. Just as there are different types of diabetes, there are different treatments for each type. Kids with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin throughout the day by either injection or pump. It is well advised for the teacher to learn how to administer the injection to a student in the case of an emergency. Parents of children with diabetes will relay special dietary plans and restrictions to follow while in school. Following the dietary plan is very important for the health of the student and should be taken into consideration when planning field trips and class parties. Checking blood sugar levels is mandatory in order to keep glucose levels in a healthy range before a meal and at the onset of a child not feeling well. Those with type 2 diabetes can be treated by making lifestyle changes and in severe cases oral medication. A health care provider has a number of different oral medications that can help either make, release, reduce, improve, or absorb insulin depending on the patient’s needs.
Regardless of what type of diabetes a child has, there must be lifestyle changes that occur. These changes come from eating a healthy diet and becoming more active. Teachers should help to educate students on healthy eating habits and encourage physical activity whenever possible. Children and students may find it hard to follow such restrictions and limitations while at school among their classmates. The condition poses a significant challenge to children and adolescents as they find it difficult to follow the necessary discipline and change their lifestyles to control their diabetes. The disease is associated with numerous duties; those affected must regularly conduct blood glucose tests, follow a diet, and apply insulin therapy. All of these challenging aspects of diabetes may adversely affect relations with peers, lead to difficulties at school, impair the quality of sleep, cause mood swings, and disturb daily functioning (Czenczek-Lewandowska, et al., 2019). With that being said, teachers have to make sure they are encouraging positive behavior among students and keeping all children equally involved in school activities. Being mindful of meal schedules, length of outdoor play, and any extra activity that may cause the child to need more insulin can help a student from feeling restricted or excluded from other classmates. Teachers can be instrumental in helping children understand and learn about diabetes so that those diagnosed do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about their condition.
In conclusion, there are 29 million Americans living with diabetes. A recent study found that rates of new cases of diabetes in children and teens rose during 2002 to 2012. The researchers reported increases in the rates of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (‘Diabetes Increases in Children and Teens’, 2017). With the rise in numbers of those affected by diabetes all schools should provide informative details and facts for their employees to better assist those living with the condition. There is no doubt one of the students in a classroom during a teacher’s career will have diabetes. A teacher should be educated on pediatric diabetes and learn how to best care for such students. Remember, communication between parents and caregivers is priority in regard to a child’s health and what is best for their medical needs. The importance of knowing the signs, symptoms, treatment, and management of the disease can save a student from having serious complications.
- Carakushansky, M. (Ed.). (2016, October). Hyperglycemia and Diabetic Ketoacidosis (for Parents). Retrieved October 7, 2019, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hyperglycemia.html.
- Carakushansky, M. (Ed.). (2016, October). Hypoglycemia (for Parents). Retrieved October 7, 2019, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hypoglycemia.html.
- Czenczek-Lewandowska, E., Leszczak, J., Weres, A., Baran, J., Wyszyńska, J., Grzegorczyk, J., … Mazur, A. (2019). Sedentary behaviors in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, depending on the insulin therapy used. Medicine, 98(19). doi: 10.1097/md.0000000000015625
- Diabetes Increases in Children and Teens. (2017, September 8). Retrieved October 7, 2019, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/06/diabetes-increases-children-teens.
- Dowshen, S. (Ed.). (2018, February). Can Diabetes Be Prevented? (for Teens). Retrieved October 7, 2019, from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/prevention.html?WT.ac=t-ra
- Marotz, L. R. (2015). Health, safety, and nutrition for the young child (9th ed.). Australia: Cengage Learning.