By Marybeth Bock

When you’re a teenager, you hear a lot about hormones and how they affect your body. But there’s a chance you haven’t heard about the hormone insulin, or how important it is to your health.

Insulin is produced in your pancreas and it helps you process glucose, the sugar from food that we all need for energy. But if someone has diabetes, their body either doesn’t produce insulin, or it doesn’t work correctly.

Someone with Type 2 diabetes doesn’t respond normally to the insulin that their body produces, and this results in high blood sugar on a continual basis, which is not healthy.

No one knows for sure what causes diabetes but certain people are more at risk, like those who are overweight or have a family history of the condition. You may not even know you have it, because symptoms can take a long time to develop, and aren’t always obvious.

When someone has diabetes, they may feel tired all the time, may pee a lot because their body is trying to rid itself of the extra blood sugar, and therefore, they may feel thirsty often and drink a lot to make up for that.

If you are at a higher risk for diabetes, a doctor may order a blood test to check your glucose level. Type 2 diabetes is treatable with options like medication and possibly insulin shots or a pump to control blood sugar levels.

It’s important for diabetics to eat a healthy diet, exercise consistently, and check their blood sugar on a regular basis. With a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, some people are able to stop taking medication for Type 2 diabetes.

Teenagers who are diagnosed with diabetes can often feel sad or angry about their condition. It’s easy to feel different from your friends when you have to deal with the responsibilities of regularly checking your blood sugar and carefully watching what you eat. It may seem like your parents nag you a lot to be healthy.

These feelings are normal, so it’s important to find support and people you can talk to about your physical and emotional health. Reach out to your doctor and other treatment professionals for tips and advice. You may be able to find a local teen support group for encouragement.

Living with this condition can be challenging at times, but teens with diabetes successfully overcome these challenges every day.  Here are a couple basic tips:

  • Stay physically active
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Don’t skip meals; eat meals at the same time of day
  • Manage your blood sugar testing…create a routine