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Diabetes or Hypoglycemia

Diabetes is a disease in which a student's blood glucose levels are too high or fluctuate between high and low causing difficulty with concentration, fatigue or in extreme cases loss of consciousness. Hypoglycemia is inability of the body to raise blood sugar levels when necessary, sometimes as a side-effect of medication for diabetes.
Students with Type I diabetes are often diagnosed as children. Students with Type I diabetes are unable to produce insulin, which is necessary to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy necessary for everyday life. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system turns against a part of the body, in this case, the pancreas. These students are reliant on insulin therapy or other treatments to manage their condition. Students with Type II diabetes are either unable to produce enough insulin or their cells ignore the insulin their bodies produce. Diabetes can cause vision problems, kidney or cardiovascular disease and nerve damage. Hypoglycemia, though often associated with diabetes and related medications may also relate to a number of other causes including other diseases and hormone or enzyme deficiencies.

Observing Diabetes or Hypoglycemia in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following in students with diabetes or hypoglycemia:

  • May appear unfocused or non-responsive if blood sugar drops too low
  • May need to eat or drink during class to maintain sugar levels
  • May need to leave class for a few minutes to check sugar levels or take medication
  • May exhibit shaking and sweating if blood sugar drops too low

Resources

Related Functional Characteristics

Dietary Needs : Students with diabetes or hypoglycemia have special dietary needs including monitoring carbohydrates and eating to maintain sugar levels.

Numbness : Students with diabetes may have permanent numbness due to diabetic neuropathy; this numbness can occur anywhere but is most common in the toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms.

Service Animal Needs : Students with diabetes or hypoglycemia may have service animals to alert them to the symptoms of a drop in blood sugar.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.