Diabetes is a health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. Typically, the body turns food into glucose (sugar), which is released into the bloodstream. This signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is what lets blood sugar into the body’s cells to create energy. With diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, so the sugar from food stays in the blood stream. This can cause serious health problems, like heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. There are three types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes are usually diagnosed by early adulthood. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction that stops the body from making insulin and there is no known way to prevent it. If your child has type 1 diabetes, they will have to take insulin every day. About 1 in 10 people with diabetes have type 1.
- Type 2 diabetes. Most people with diabetes have type 2. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adulthood. With type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin well, so it can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. Keeping a healthy weight and staying active can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Get your child tested if they have risk factors.
- Gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes happens during pregnancy. It usually goes away after a woman’s baby is born. But it can put the baby at higher risk of health problems, like obesity as a child or teen. It also puts the both the baby and mother at higher risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes can be prevented by keeping a healthy weight and staying active.
Learn more about diabetes.
- Eat smart. Eating well can help manage your child's blood sugar, which is key for people with diabetes. This means eating healthy portions of healthy foods at the right times of day so that your child's blood sugar stays in check. Your child's doctor can help you come up with a plan.
- Stay active. Staying active comes with lots of health benefits, including keeping a healthy weight and lowering blood sugar. This helps to prevent diabetes and manage diabetes for people who are already diagnosed. You and your child can start slow – even small changes can make a difference.
- Get tested. Symptoms of diabetes don’t always show up right away. It’s important to get your child tested if they have any risk factors. These include having pre-diabetes, being overweight, not getting enough exercise and having had gestational diabetes. People who are Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and native to Alaska are also at higher risk, as well as some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, there are treatments and medicines available. It’s important for your child to do and take them regularly, as directed by their doctor.
- Type 1 diabetes. Insulin is a must for people with type 1 diabetes because the pancreas does not make it naturally. Your child will need to take it multiple times a day, like when they eat or drink, to control their blood sugar level.
- Type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes, like exercise and a healthy diet, can help control type 2 diabetes. There are also medicines, including insulin, which is injected, and others that come in pill form. Your child's treatment may change over time.
- Gestational diabetes. This form of diabetes is managed in the same ways as type 2 diabetes. Talk to your child's doctor about a healthy eating plan. Ask what type of exercise is safe while pregnant.
Sunshine Health can help connect you to services and supports for people with diabetes. Here are some examples of benefits your child may qualify for:
- Visual Care Services: Services that test and treat conditions, illnesses and diseases of the eyes. Covered as medically necessary. Prior authorization may be required.
- Visual Aid Services: Items like glasses, contact lenses and prosthetic (fake) eyes. Covered as medically necessary. Prior authorization may be required.
- Includes: Two pairs of glasses for members ages 0-20.
- Podiatry Services: Medical care and other treatments for the feet. Covered as medically necessary. Prior authorization may be required.
- Includes: Up to 24 office visits per year; foot and nail care; x-rays and other imaging for the foot, ankle and lower leg; surgery on the foot, ankle or lower leg.
- Medication Management Services Services to help people understand and make the best choices for taking medication. Covered as medically necessary.
- Access to Care Management: Members with certain conditions may be eligible for one-on-one support from a Sunshine Health Care Manager. Contact Member Services for more information.
Earn cash rewards through Sunshine Health My Health Pays programs:
- Comprehensive Diabetes Care: For members ages 13-20 years. Must complete both HbA1c test and retinopathy screening (dilated eye exam) once a year. Earn $25.
- Weight Loss Health Coaching Sessions: For members age 10 and older. Must submit a consent form, verbally pledge to lose weight within 30 days and complete six sessions within six months. Earn $20.
- Imagine Camp by the American Diabetes Association: A summer camp for children and their families who are living with and at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Kids learn skills for managing their diabetes. Financial assistance available. Find a camp near you.
- Camp Sweeney by the Southwestern Diabetic Foundation, Inc.: Overnight summer camp designed for children with diabetes. Focused on teaching diabetes management and positive lifestyle choices. Financial assistance available. Sign up.
- Virtual Diabetes Education Program by Diversity in Diabetes: A 12-week education program for people with diabetes. Six interactive discussion sessions over Zoom. Explore feelings, information and choices related to living with diabetes. Apply online.
- Support and Tools from the American Diabetes Association: Find support and tools, like school resources, Q&A sessions, tips, information and more from the American Diabetes Association.
- Online Support from Beyond Type 2: Share your child's story and connect with others impacted by type 2 diabetes. Find resources on health management, mental health and more. Request to join.
- Diabetes Management for Seniors by LiveCare Health: Get matched with a health coach, available 24/7, who can help you stay independent while living with diabetes. Join or call 1-800-345-0491.
- D-Box by Touched by Type 1: Find resources and events for people impacted by type 1 diabetes. Request a “D-Box” – a starter kit for people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Visit the Krames Health Library to access thousands of health sheets on medications, conditions and more. Visit the Community Resource Database to get connected with programs and supports in your area that can help with food, shelter, education, jobs and more.