diabetes and how to manage it.
Take care of your
food choices, be active,
stay at a healthy weight, take
your medicine, and check
your blood glucose.
Check out more about diabetes
Take Care of Your Diabetes!
What is diabetes?
Diabetes means that your blood glucose (GLOO-kos), also called blood
sugar, is too high. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is needed to
fuel our bodies. Glucose is also stored in our liver and muscles. Your
blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for
energy. But having too much glucose in your blood is not healthy.
An organ called the pancreas (PAN-kree-as) makes insulin (IN-suh-lin).
Insulin helps glucose get from your blood into your cells. Cells take the glucose and turn it into energy.
If you have diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin or your cells cannot use insulin very well.
Glucose builds up in your blood and cannot get into your cells. If your blood glucose stays too high,
it can damage many parts of the body such as the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
Are there different types of diabetes?
Yes. There are three main types of diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, the cells in the pancreas that
make insulin are destroyed. If you have type 1 diabetes,
you need to get insulin from shots or a pump everyday.
Most teens can learn to adjust the amount of insulin
they take according to their physical activity and eating
patterns. This makes it easier to manage your diabetes
when you have a busy schedule. Type 1 used to be
called “insulin dependent” or “juvenile” diabetes.
In type 2 diabetes, the
pancreas still makes some insulin
but cells cannot use it very well.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you
may need to take insulin or pills
to help your body’s supply of
insulin work better. Type 2 used to
be called “adult onset diabetes.”
Now more teens are getting type 2, especially if they
Gestational (jes-TAY-shon-al) diabetes
is a type of diabetes that occurs when women are
pregnant. Having it raises their risk for getting
diabetes, mostly type 2, for the rest of their lives. It
also raises their child’s risk for being overweight and
for getting type 2 diabetes.
Why do teens get diabetes?
Both genes and things like viruses and toxins
may cause a person to get type 1 diabetes.
Studies are being done to identify the causes of
type 1 diabetes and to stop the process that
destroys the pancreas. Researchers can now
predict who is at risk for developing type 1
diabetes and in the future may be able to
prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
Being overweight increases the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Teens who make unhealthy food choices, are not physically active, or who
have a family member with diabetes are more likely to get type 2 diabetes.
Some racial groups have a greater chance of
getting diabetes—American Indians, Alaska Natives, African
Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans,
and Pacific Islanders. It is not true that eating
too much sugar causes diabetes.
What do I need to do to take care of my diabetes?
The key to taking care of your diabetes is to keep your blood glucose as close to normal as possible. The best way to do this is to:
make healthy food choices
eat the right
amounts of food
be active everyday
stay at a healthy
take your medicines
and check your blood
glucose as planned
with your health
Your doctor will tell you
what blood glucose level is right for you. Your goal
is to keep your blood glucose as close to this level
as you can. Your doctor or diabetes educator will
teach you how to check your blood glucose with a
It helps to know what affects your blood glucose
level. Food, illness, and stress raise your blood
glucose. Insulin or pills and being physically active
lower your blood glucose. Talk with your doctor or
diabetes educator about how these things change
your blood glucose levels and how you can make
changes in your diabetes plan.
Carbohydrates (CAR-boh-HY-drates), or carbs for
short, are a good source of energy for our bodies.But if you eat too many carbs at one time,
your blood glucose can get too high. Many
foods contain carbs. Great carb choices include
whole grain foods, nonfat or low-fat milk, and fresh
fruits and vegetables. Eat more of them rather than
white bread, whole milk, sweetened fruit drinks,
regular soda, potato chips, sweets, and desserts.
Why do I need to take care of my diabetes?
If you take care of your diabetes you can lower your
risk for other health problems. High blood glucose
can harm blood vessels and cause heart attacks or
strokes. It can also damage organs in the body and
cause blindness, kidney failure, loss of toes or feet,
gum problems, or loss of teeth.
The good news is
that when you
take care of your
diabetes, you can
reduce or avoid
Do not let
you! You can do
all the things
your friends do
and live a long
and healthy life.
nonfat or low-fat
milk, fresh fruits,
are great carb
The key to taking care of
your diabetes is to keep your blood glucose as close to normal as possible.
National Diabetes Education Program to get free
copies of other tip sheets for teens
- Be Active
- Stay at a Healthy Weight
- Make Healthy Food Choices
- Dealing With the Ups and Downs of Diabetes
- Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
www.YourDiabetesInfo.org • 1-888-693-NDEP
American Association of Diabetes Educators to
find a diabetes educator near you
American Diabetes Association for help to manage
American Dietetic Association to find a dietitian
www.eatright.org • 1-800-366-1655
Bam! Body and Mind website for help to stay healthy
Children With Diabetes website for more about kids
and families with diabetes
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
International for help to manage diabetes
www.jdrf.org • 1-800-223-1138
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse for
more about diabetes
www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov • 1-800-860-8747
WIN – Weight-control Information Network for weight control help:
- Take Charge of Your Health! A Teenager’s Guide to Better Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the support of more than 200 partner organizations. www.ndep.nih.gov
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