Covenant Children's Hospital
News Careers Volunteer For Health Professionals Contact Us
Print this Page Email This Page Text Size Increase Decrease
Specialties & Services
Types of Anesthesia
Child Life
What to Expect
Questions to Ask
For Kids! What is Anesthesia?
Tips for Preparing a Child for Anesthesi ...
Arts in Medicine
Behavioral Health
Cardiology/Cardiac Surgery
Congenital Heart Defect Awareness
Heart Surgery
Isom Heart Center Services
Our Services
Meet Our Team
Types of Congenital Heart Defects
Fetal Heart Program
Resources for Families
Child Life
Craniofacial Surgery
Critical Care Services
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Newborn Intensive Care Unit
Emergency Services & Trauma Care
Safety & Quality
Patient Orientation Videos
Health Education
Child Abuse
Healthy Heroes
Newborn and Infant
Safety Tips
Orthopedic Surgery
Patient and Family Support
Condition H (HELP)
Covenant Children's Wishlist
Family Advisory Council
Teen Advisory Group
Child Life Services for Pre-Operation
Teen Town
Pet Therapy
Preparing for Surgery


Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot use the sugar (carbohydrates) from food that is eaten. The body doesn't make or properly use a natural hormone, called insulin.

When you eat, the carbohydrates in your food are broken down into sugar, which your body uses for energy. Insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas, helps the cells throughout the body absorb sugar from the bloodstream.

If you have diabetes, your body cannot use the sugar, either because it doesn't make enough insulin or the insulin it makes doesn't work right. Since the sugar is not absorbed into the body, it goes into the urine and leaves the body. The cells of the body are not able to use the sugar and begin to starve.

Once insulin is given, the blood sugar is lowered and the body is able to use the sugar for energy and growth.

Hemoglobin A1C

One of the measures of overall diabetes control is a blood test called Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C). The HbA1C test checks average blood sugar over a three-month period (the life span of a red blood cell).

The test is a marker of overall diabetes control. It is a predictor of long-term complications such as eye disease, kidney disease, and heart disease. People without diabetes have HbA1C levels less than 6 percent.

Understanding Type I Diabetes

Type I Diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin, the hormone that helps the body absorb sugar from the bloodstream. The other jobs that the pancreas does, such as helping digest your food, are not affected.

Without insulin, the sugar is not absorbed. Instead, it travels through the bloodstream (where it can be measured as high blood sugar), gets filtered by the kidneys, and passes out through the urine.

People with Type I Diabetes, urinate often, even at night, and are very thirsty. Tiredness and weight loss may also occur, depending on how long the blood sugar has been high.

The warning signs of Type I Diabetes are drinking and urinating a lot, weight loss and low energy.

Understanding Type II Diabetes

People who have Type II Diabetes are resistant to the insulin they make. Because the insulin produced by the pancreas is not working properly, the body needs more insulin to help sugar get into the cells. This type of diabetes is more common in people older than 45. However, people who are overweight or who have other family members with Type II Diabetes may develop it at any age.

The warning signs of Type II Diabetes are similar to Type I Diabetes since the blood sugar levels are high in both conditions. People with Type II Diabetes drink and urinate a lot and often have weight loss and low energy.

Covenant Children's Hospital
Find Covenant Children's Hospital on Facebook Find Covenant Children's Hospital on Twitter