Diabetes is a chronic condition that develops when the body no longer produces enough insulin or the insulin it makes does not work effectively. Insulin is a hormone made by an organ called the pancreas, located near the stomach. 

One of the ways the body gets energy is from the food we eat. Digestion allows the body to break carbohydrates down into glucose. Insulin allows the glucose to move into the cell so it can be used for energy. 

A lack of insulin prevents glucose from moving out of the blood and into the cells. This causes glucose to build up in the blood, resulting in hyperglycemia, also called high blood glucose.  Hyperglycemia is a main symptom of diabetes.

Common symptoms of high blood glucose levels include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling tired
  • Blurred vision

There are two main types of diabetes.  Children and adolescents can develop either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. 

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes

The pancreas stops making insulin.

The pancreas produces insulin, but the body’s cells cannot use the insulin properly. 

Treatment must include daily insulin.

Treatment always includes diet and exercise.  Medications are often used (insulin and / or oral medications).

Makes up about 10 percent of all cases of diabetes.  More common in children.

Makes up about 90 percent of all cases of diabetes.  More common in adults.

Most of the time there is no family history.

Most of the time there is a family history.

Diabetes can be controlled.  With proper management, your child can lead a healthy and active life.

  • Diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar.
  • A person with diabetes can do almost everything that someone without diabetes can do.
  • A person cannot catch diabetes from someone else.

Last Updated 04/2012