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How nurses guide diabetic patients

Diabetes is a chronic disease that, with the help of treatment and some recommendations for healthy habits, should not prevent patients from living a long, healthy and happy life; We have talked a lot about it, and we will continue to do so.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that ensures that the sugar in the bloodstream enters the cells and can obtain energy. But if the sugar can’t get to the cells to be converted into energy, it builds up in the blood to unhealthy levels.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 is characterised by poor insulin production and requires daily administration of this hormone. In contrast, type 2 diabetes occurs because the body uses insulin inefficiently.

Type 2 accounts for approximately 90% of global diabetes cases and is mainly due to excessive body weight and physical inactivity. This type of diabetes was only seen in adults, but now it also manifests in children,” stresses the WHO.

Given the large number of cases of diabetes, several experts offer us their recommendations to keep the disease under control:

  1. Prevention

Although type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, there are effective measures to prevent type 2.

Simple lifestyle measures prevent type 2 diabetes or delay its onset. However, some of the actions indicated by this entity are having a healthy weight, staying physically active or avoiding tobacco consumption.

Likewise, Rebeca Reyes, coordinator of the Diabetes Mellitus Working Group of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition, indicates that a healthy diet “can help prevent the onset of this type of diabetes, and a healthy lifestyle is an integral part of effective control of all forms of diabetes and to help prevent complications.

  1. Mediterranean diet

Dr Reyes explains that the same dietary guidelines are recommended for people with diabetes as for the general population: the Mediterranean diet. “In the PREDIMED study, it has been shown that the Mediterranean diet prevents cardiovascular disease, so it should always be the diet of choice,” she stresses.

  1. Avoid “yo-yo” diets

Scientists from the Center for Biomedical Research in Network-Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN) have found that patients who gain weight after a slim diet are more likely to suffer from insulin resistance and, in the long run, to develop diabetes.

  1. Beware of “light” products

Giuseppe Russolillo, president of the Spanish Foundation of Dieticians-Nutritionists (FEDN), assures that “a product that comes with the ‘light’ label may contain levels of sugar that are not suitable for a person with diabetes since, despite having lowered the proportion of sugar, it may still be too high. In addition, it may be called ‘light’ because the percentage of another ingredient other than sugar has decreased”.

  1. Get physical exercise

“The muscle contraction caused by exercise consumes glucose from the blood and prevents the complications of diabetes. Its benefits are also produced at other levels: it improves blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular function,” say specialists from the Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid (Spain).

  1. Store insulin properly

Patients with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin and take care of their lifestyle. 

The specialists at the Sant Joan de Déu Center for the Innovation of Childhood Diabetes in Barcelona (northeast of Spain) recommend keeping insulin in the fridge at a temperature between 4 degrees Celsius and 8 degrees Celsius while it is not being used. This way, it will remain in good condition until the container expires.

However, they warn that administering insulin fresh from the fridge can be painful.

“To avoid this sensation, the insulin can be kept at room temperature. The ideal is between 15 and 29 degrees Celsius”, they say.

However, as most manufacturers recommend, they point out that insulin should be discarded after four weeks at room temperature. Also, it should not be stored in the freezer since it loses its action at temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. Therefore, it should also not be exposed to light or heat.

  1. Encourage independence for children with diabetes

If your child has diabetes, “teach him to assess his results for himself and involve him, depending on his age and maturity, in the treatment of his disease and the controls,” advise psychologist Olga Sanz Font and the Diabetes Foundation.

Similarly, they suggest giving the child small responsibilities. “Consider him capable of learning and managing the treatment of the disease in the same way that a child without diabetes can learn tasks of his daily life,” they specify.

  1. Take advantage of new technologies

Technological advances are contributing very positively to the treatment of diabetes. In this sense, Eduard Montanya, scientific director of the Center for Biomedical Research Network of Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Diseases (CIBERDEM), affirms that the contribution of new technologies is significant and occurs at very different levels of care activity.

“For example, the application of new technologies with interactive telematic systems between the patient and the healthcare team facilitates patient communication with healthcare professionals and allows for much better continuity of care,” he adds.

  1. Take care of your feet

It is necessary to check them every day in search of any small chafing, wound or redness. “If you detect lesions on your feet, do not manipulate them and consult the health personnel who treat you. Never try to remove the calluses yourself”, warn the specialists of the Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid.

“You must wash your feet daily with warm water and soap. Drying must be thorough, and we must make an effort to eliminate moisture from the interdigital area,” indicates the Diabetic Foot Unit of the University Clinic of Navarra experts.

“For nail care, blunt-tipped scissors and an emery board should be used. All this with good light and using the help of a magnifying glass and a mirror if necessary. Never use sharp-tipped scissors, nail clippers, or other sharp objects. Nor metal files, collides or pumice stone “, they specify.

In any case, whenever this care cannot be carried out with the precision they require, you should go to the podiatrist”, they state.

  1. Get eye exams

“If you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a condition that, if left untreated, can lead to vision loss,” say specialists from the UK National Health Service. To prevent this condition, they advise undergoing ophthalmological check-ups once a year.

These recommendations and a healthy lifestyle will contribute to better disease control. Health authorities point out that medication, proper nutrition and physical exercise can help prevent and treat the complications that diabetes brings with it.

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