Supporting People With Diabetes In The Workplace

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The Ministry of Health has indicated diabetes in the workplace, of which 240,000 kiwis have been diagnosed as having, as the fastest growing health issue in this country.

Diabetes in the workplace

Knowing about this chronic disease is critical. Because of the large numbers, its reach is widespread. We all will likely be connected in some way with an individual who has to deal with diabetes. This may also be in the workplace, where providing support to employees is paramount. Too many myths render diabetes as one of the most misunderstood illnesses.

Debunking these myths can be done through enhancing understanding, allowing greater empathy but also inspiring those who are fortunate enough to not have the illness to take measures to prevent it in cases where it can be prevented.

So how can we help?

Know what diabetes is

Diabetes is caused by having too much sugar in your blood. This is because the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, is either lacking or is not working properly. When blood sugar levels get too high your body tries to get rid of it in your urine, while at the same time cells are starved of their energy source. If untreated, diabetes can be fatal.

Three types of diabetes

Type 1

  • Insulin dependent
  • Pancreas fails to produce insulin
  • Usually starts in childhood
  • The only remedy is to replace the insulin
  • This cannot be remedied with a change in diet change

Type 2

  • The body can either become resistant against the effects of insulin. This is especially in overweight people. Alternatively, the pancreas is not producing enough insulin
  • Can be remedied with diet change
  • This diabetes is the most commonly known. It tends to occur later in life, however this trend does appear to be changing as child obesity becomes more common

Gestational diabetes

  • Develops for some during pregnancy
  • More insulin is needed than the body can produce
  • Though gestational diabetes resolves after the baby is born, that woman is possibly at greater risk of developing diabetes later on in life

Helping people with diabetes in the workplace

Southern Cross Health Insurance recently posted a blog informing readers how to manage diabetics in the workplace. Some points are specific to the workplace; others are relevant to other relationships as well. Some of the key points they note include:

Employers can work with people to understand their diabetes and how they can help

“People managing diabetes need to maintain schedules about when they eat or take medicine. Things like shift work can complicate this.  Sit down together and make a plan to ensure they’re safe at work and can successfully self-manage.”

Educate yourself and others about diabetes

“The more awareness others have about diabetes the easier it is for individuals to manage.  Education is also important to help those with undiagnosed diabetes spot the symptoms.”

Simply talk about it

Be a good listener to those who want to talk about their experience, and ask if there is any way you can help support them. Know the symptoms of diabetes to look out for your colleagues, friends and loved ones.

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