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Taking Care of Your Diabetes When You Are at School or Work
Being at School
- Try to stick to your regular schedule of eating, testing glucose, giving yourself an injection, and being active.
- Do you have an especially busy day ahead? Any change to your schedule can affect diabetes. Have a kit on hand to treat hypoglycemia. This kit can include items like glucose tablets, fruit juice, soft drinks (with sugar), hard candy, or sugar packets. Ask your doctor how much you should take. For example, 3-4 glucose tablets may be what you need to adjust the levels. If you have an exam coming up or a strenuous gym class, remember to check your glucose right before.
- Prepare for the school day. Pack all of the supplies that you’ll need—testing strips, medications, and kit to treat hypoglycemia. Bring a healthful lunch that includes snacks and drinks. Wear or carry identification that says you have diabetes. There are a lot more options than having to wear the stainless steel medic alert bracelet. Online, you can find jewelry in all kinds of styles that alert people to your condition.
- If your schedule has changed a lot, like participating more in sports, talk to your doctor. You may need a new diabetes management plan. In general, it is a good idea to exercise after lunch. Or, have a snack before being active.
- Find out what you should do if you have a substitute teacher or if the nurse is not in school. Keep a copy of your diabetes management plan at the school (eg, in your locker) in case you need to show it to the staff.
- If you are bullied at school because you have diabetes, tell an adult right away. Talk to someone you trust, whether it is a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor. It is their job to keep you safe, and you have the right to feel comfortable in your school.
- Talk to your friends. Chances are they will be understanding your condition and will offer support.
- Ask your doctor what the warning signs are for hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Know when you need to CALL 911.
Being at Work
- Share your diabetes management plan with your boss, coworkers, and nurse or medical team (if your company has one). It is important that they know what to do if you have a complication. In your desk and car, keep items like glucose tablets, hard candy, sugar packets, fruit juice, and soft drinks (with sugar) to treat hypoglycemia. Ask your doctor how much you should take to bring the glucose levels back up.
- If your work schedule changes, talk to your doctor. She may need to revise your diabetes management plan.
- Prepare for your work day by packing everything that you’ll need—diabetes supplies (eg, testing strips, syringes, needles) and medicine. In addition to carrying a diabetes identification card in your wallet, remember to wear your medic alert bracelet. If you feel uncomfortable wearing it, look online to find ID bracelets, necklaces, and charms in many styles.
- Take the time to prepare a healthful lunch that includes fresh fruits and veggies. For busy days, have on hand canned soup, tuna, fruit juice, and vegetable juice (like V8). Going out to lunch? Read the menu first; many restaurants post their menus online. Once there, make good choices, like ordering a broth-based soup or salad, skipping the rolls and butter, eating smaller portions, and splitting dessert. In general, try to eat lunch at the same time every day.
- Exercise can help your body use insulin better. Take a half hour to walk or workout in the gym. To avoid hypoglycemia, exercise after eating lunch or have a snack before the activity.
- If you have an especially demanding task, test your blood sugar right before.
- Be sure you know what symptoms should trigger you to call the doctor right away.
American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org/
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/
Canadian Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.ca/
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/diabetes-diabete/index-eng.php/
Diabetes center. Kidshealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/managing%5Fdiabetes/living/school%5Fdiabetes.html. Accessed September 25, 2012.
Managing diabetes at work. University of Tennesee Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.utmedicalcenter.org/news/Managing+Diabetes+at+Work/1972.html. Accessed September 25, 2012.
Physical activity and diabetes. Canadian Diabetes Assocation website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/living/management/activity/. Accessed September 25, 2012.
Take charge of your diabetes: Keeping track of your blood glucose. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/DIABETES/pubs/tcyd/ktrack.htm. Updated May 21, 2011. Accessed September 25, 2012.
Taking care of your diabetes at special times. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/type1and2/specialtimes.htm. Accessed September 25, 2012.
Type 1 diabetes. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated June 22, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2012.
Type 1 diabetes in school. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International website. Available at: http://www.jdrf.org/index.cfm?page%5Fid=103439. Accessed September 25, 2012.
Type 2 diabetes. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated July 17, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2012.
What is bullying? Stop Bullying Now website. Available at: http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html. Accessed September 25, 2012.
When your blood glucose is too high or too low. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/type1and2/lowglucose.htm. Accessed September 25, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012
- Update Date: 09/25/2012