You need to educate employees on diabetes

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A recent survey found that 49% of Canadians are unaware of the important role insulin plays in helping their body convert glucose (sugar) into energy.

With more than 9 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes, it's a public health worry that it continues to be one of the most misunderstood conditions.

Read: Chronic disease taking its toll on Canadians

Do your clients' employees understand basic facts about insulin?

Without correct information about diabetes, clients' employees can drive up health plan costs. If they do not recognize when they are a family member are suffering with it or how to properly treat and manage the disease, clients can expect to see climbing costs.

You can help prevent this by teaching employees about diabetes. Here's a easy to understand info sheet to share with all employees with data from the Canadian Diabetes Association and Sanofi Canada.

Read: Better support needed for diabetics

Diabetes Fact Sheet

There are three main types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes: This usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in the blood. Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes: The remaining 90% have this type, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed.

A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects approximately 2 to 4% of all pregnancies (in the non-Aboriginal population) and involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child.

So what's prediabetes? It refers to a condition where a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

What are  the risk factors?

If you are aged 40 or older, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and should be tested at least every three years. If any of the following risks factors apply, you should be tested earlier and/or more often.

Read: Poor eating habits increase risk of chronic disease, survey

Being:

  • A member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent)
  • Overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle)

Having:

  • A parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • Health complications that are associated with diabetes
  • Given birth to a baby that weighed more than 4 kg (9 lb)
  • Had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • Been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin), or schizophrenia

What are the symptoms? It is important to recognize that many people who have type 2 diabetes may display no symptoms. However, these are the recognized symptoms:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight change (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection

Understanding insulin

The cornerstone of diabetes management is managing blood sugar levels. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, taking control of blood sugar levels through a combination of exercise, nutrition and, if required, medication may reduce the risk of long term complications of diabetes and help in living a full and healthy life.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that circulates through the bloodstream to facilitate the uptake of sugar (glucose) into the body's tissues—safely delivering it to areas that need to use it for energy, such as the liver and muscles. Without insulin, a person's body would starve because the glucose will stay in the bloodstream and not get to where it needs to be.

Sugar in the bloodstream

If there is not enough insulin produced by the pancreas, or if the insulin is not effective, too much sugar accumulates in the bloodstream which can be extremely harmful, potentially even deadly. Continuously high levels of sugar also make it impossible for the pancreas to secrete enough insulin for the body to keep up.

Without enough insulin to escort it into the body tissue, sugar builds up in the bloodstream and causes a number of problems in both the large and small blood vessels of the body, damaging the eyes, kidneys, nerves, feet, heart and brain.

How to tell if there is too much sugar in the bloodstream?

In addition to measuring blood sugar levels pre and post meals, an A1C test is used to measure the average blood sugar level. It provides a snapshot of how well the blood sugar control has been over the past 2-3 months. For most people living with diabetes, the recommended A1C level is 7.0 or less. Anything higher than 7.0 means that (for most people with diabetes) the blood sugar levels are too high and there is an increased risk for long term complications of diabetes.

Montreal Education Event

The Sanofi Insulin GO7 team is hosting an interactive lounge on World Diabetes Day (November 14, 2012 between 9 am and 12 pm) in Montreal to educate people about insulin and the crucial role that it plays in the way people can feel on a daily basis. Click here for more information.

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