James K. Robinson
If a family member or close friend has diabetes, it's important for them to feel support and love from you. Dealing with diabetes can be difficult and frustrating, and having the support of family and friends can make a big difference. If you are in a position to provide support to someone with diabetes, the following ideas can help maximize your efforts.
Learn about Diabetes
Whether you are brand new to the diabetes diagnosis or have known about it for some time, it's a good idea to educate yourself about diabetes. Find out from a trusted source what the signs and symptoms are, the types of medications used, and some of the ways to manage diabetes. When offering your support, you will know more about what the person is actually going through.
Diabetes is a serious disease in which higher than normal blood sugar levels circulate throughout the body, over time, this can cause damage to organs and tissues if not properly managed. There is no cure for diabetes.
At the same time, ask questions and talk to the person with diabetes, finding out what he or she needs from you. If you don't ask, you may not know how best to help. When you open up communication lines, you are letting the person know that you care and that you are there to help.
Know what to do in an Emergency
Diabetic emergencies don't happen often, but when they do happen, it can be serious. Knowing what to look for and what to expect may possibly save a life. There are two emergencies to watch for - low blood sugar, and Ketoacidocis, or high ketones.
Ketones, an explanation
A complication of diabetes, ketones are the result of the inability of the body to obtain sugars, namely glucose, from the bloodstream. The cells of the body rely on the blood sugar called glucose to use as fuel in the production of energy to drive the millions of biochemical processes that keep the body alive. As well as the sugars in the blood, extra glucose can also be changed to fat and stored in the fat cells of the body.
When, for whatever reason, the body cannot obtain enough glucose from the blood the body will begin to "burn" fat to obtain the needed glucose and when that occurs, acids referred to as ketones are left behind. In other words, ketones are an acid remaining when the body burns its own fat.
When this condition occurs it must be treated otherwise the continued buildup of ketones will lead to the more serious level called ketoacidosis. Very high levels of ketones can lead to a diabetic coma or even death.
Some of the warning signs of a diabetic low (or low blood sugar) include headaches, dizziness shaking, excessive sweating, and hunger. Signs can escalate to seizures or unconsciousness. Some of the signs of high ketones are anxiety, nervousness, sweating, sleepiness, weakness, confusion, difficulty in speaking. Serious signs might include rapid breathing and stomach pain.
In both emergencies, stay calm and seek medical help immediately. In the case of low blood sugar, assuming the person is conscious, help them to take a glucose tablet or candy, or drink apple juice or orange juice, perhaps a half a glass to begin with but continued sips as they prefer. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
The condition of lower blood sugars than normal is referred to by doctors as hypoglycemia, and the condition of higher than normal blood sugar levels is referred to as hyperglycemia.
Support Healthy Goals
It can be easy for family members to sabotage a diabetic person's healthy goals by cooking unhealthy meals, offering sweets and other tempting food, and not encouraging a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, it is just as easy to support healthy goals. Cooking healthy meals can be done easily by changing a few ingredients and avoiding certain foods. Healthy treats and snacks can be just as delicious as the high-fat or sugary ones you may be used to.
Exercise is good!
You can also begin walking or participating in other types of exercise as a family. Encouraging the whole family to get involved protects the health of the person with diabetes as well as the overall health of the whole family. Helping a diabetic person stay healthy is an important way to provide support.
There are many ways to show support to a loved one with diabetes. Use available resources and be sure to let the person know you are there to be a listening ear or to help in whatever way needed. Your support and love is invaluable.
I am a long time diabetic,