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Patient-Centered Diabetes Education

Diabetes is a disease that can affect anyone at any time. Our bodies need and use glucose to fuel our cells, but certain conditions reduce cell access or ability to use glucose properly. If the body can’t convert glucose into insulin, a person will develop diabetes, which can become a life-long health condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2017 Diabetes Report Card, there has been some good news. Among adults in the United States, the rate of new cases of diabetes, known as incidence, has gone down. Diabetes incidence in adults has been steadily declining since 2008. However, the bad news is that new cases of diabetes among children and adolescents have risen.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin. It is managed entirely through insulin therapy. Type 2 diabetes occurs when health conditions such as obesity lead to the cells not being able to use the insulin delivered to them. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through insulin therapy, or through lifestyle changes like eating healthfully, exercising, and losing weight.

Diabetes can be dangerous, but it can be managed. Patients with this disease need to understand that it is a chronic condition, and need to be educated about how to treat it for optimal quality of life.

Type 1 diabetes is managed via regular insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through a controlled exercise and diet, but also may need medical management with injections and oral medications. The focus is on keeping the body’s blood sugar levels in a normal range.

Monitoring and Management

Patients need to be taught how to monitor diabetes with a glucose monitor. Glucose monitors or glucometers use test strips containing glucose oxidase, an enzyme that reacts to glucose in the blood droplet, and an interface to the electrode inside the meter.

Exercise helps both types of diabetes. During exercise, muscles become more sensitive to insulin and absorb more glucose from the blood. Healthcare providers can help patients learn the best types of exercise for their condition. Patients will need to also learn how to check their glucose after exercise to see how it is impacting blood sugar levels.

Blood sugar can also be controlled through diet in Type 2 diabetes. Foods to eat include complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils. Fats don’t have much of a direct effect on blood sugar, but they can be useful in slowing the absorption of carbohydrates.

Benefits of Exercise

We all know a body in motion stays in motion. Whether a person has diabetes or not, exercising is good for everyone. Exercise helps with:

  • Healthy weight
  • Managing blood pressure
  • Lowering the risk of heart disease
  • Releasing “feel-good” hormones to reduce stress

These benefits are no different for those with diabetes, but it can also get the body to use the insulin better, in turn helping with overall health.

Pocket Nurse offers a complete Diabetes Education Kit for students to learn diabetes-related care scenarios.

CDC Sources:

National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017

Living with Diabetes

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