Mini Med School: Diabetes
What is Diabetes?
Many people all over the world have the disease called diabetes. Children and adults can have diabetes. This disease stops the body from changing the foods we eat into energy for the body.
Think about the human body as a car. Gas does not go into the engine of the car for fuel until the car key is turned on. Gas will only be pumped into the car's engine when you turn on the key in a car as you start it.
When food is eaten, it turns into sugar (glucose). This sugar is the "gas" for the body. Insulin is the "key" that pumps the sugar into the cells for energy. When this key is not present, the body runs out of energy because the body's "gas" is not being pumped to the cells. Insulin does not change sugar into body fuel when a person has diabetes.
It is normal for the sugar to go from the blood to the cells for energy. When the sugar goes to the cells, the sugar does not stay in the blood. People without diabetes keep a low level of sugar in the blood because it moves from the blood into the cells, as it should.
When a person has no insulin or not enough insulin, the sugar is not sent to the body cells from the blood. The sugar will then build up in the blood. The sugar level of the blood gets high for the diabetic patient. Too much sugar in the blood is called "high blood sugar". High blood sugar is a sign of diabetes.
Most young children with this disease do not produce any insulin at all. These children will have to take insulin shots for the rest of their life.
When a person gets diabetes as an adult or an older person, they usually continue to make some insulin, but not enough to move all the sugar into the cells. These older people may be able to take care of their disease with diabetes pills, exercise and a good diet. They may be able to control this disease without having to take insulin shots like the child has to.
Most children have the form of diabetes called Type 1 diabetes. People that get diabetes in later life usually have Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is more severe than Type 2 diabetes.
People with diabetes can develop blindness, poor vision, kidney failure, heart disease, strokes (CVA) poor circulation and other problems, such as foot infections, unless the diabetes is treated and kept under good control.
Health care workers should help these patients to control their disease. We must help them to eat a proper diet, to exercise and to follow their doctor's order for medicine, blood sugar testing and other care, including foot care, skin care and personal hygiene.
What are the Signs of Diabetes?
Some people with diabetes may have no signs at all. Others do. Some of the most common signs of diabetes are:
How Do People Develop Diabetes?
No one knows for sure why or how people get diabetes, but there are some things that can increase the chance of getting it.
Some of these things are:
Nursing assistants and others who take care of people with diabetes should:
How do People Find Out that They Have Diabetes?
The doctor usually diagnoses diabetes when the patient tells the doctor that they have the signs of this disease. Most tell the doctor that they are very thirsty or that they often have to go to the bathroom very often to void or urinate.
When the doctor is told about these signs, lab blood tests are done. The doctor will then order lab tests to find out how much sugar, or glucose, is in the person’s blood. If the lab test shows that the sugar level is high, the person has diabetes.
The normal blood sugar from these tests should be from 70 to 115. If the blood sugar level is more than 126 when the person has not eaten any meals or food, the patient is told that they have diabetes.
How Should We Care for Diabetic Patients and Residents?
The best way for the patient to control their diabetes is to follow the five keys of success. Nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aides and other health care workers must help the person with these keys to success. The five keys of success are:
Nursing assistants must do all they can do to make sure that the patient or resident:
· Exercises every day, as ordered by the doctor. Nursing assistants should encourage the person to at least walk on a regular basis when the doctor orders it. Exercise on a regular basis is a very important activity of daily living. Some people may only be able to walk. Others may be able to run or ride a bike. Simple arm and leg exercises while sitting in a chair are good for elderly people who are not able to walk. Even these simple exercises are helpful.
KNOWING WHAT THE BLOOD SUGAR IS
Many nursing assistants are trained to take the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients. Others are not. If you are trained in taking blood sugars, you must be sure that you have done it correctly and documented or reported it.
Some patients in their home or an assisted living home may be able take their own blood sugar level alone or with a little help from the nursing assistant, home health aide or personal care aide.
Diabetic patients should:
Too much food, candy, cakes and other sweats can cause high blood sugar. It can also occur when the person is sick, has an infection, is under stress or does not exercise, as they should. Low blood sugar can happen when the person does not eat enough food or is doing too much exercise.
Nursing assistants who take care of patients should know the signs of high blood sugar and low blood sugar. If a nursing assistant observes a patient with the signs of high or low blood sugar, it must be reported to the nurse immediately.
People with diabetes sometimes have poor blood flow to their feet. They are also more prone to get infections. Nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care aides must make sure that all patients, especially diabetic patients:
We should look at the feet of diabetic patients every day. If there is any redness or sores, it should be reported to the nurse immediately. At times, a person other than a nursing assistant or a home health aide must cut the toe nails of a person with diabetes. Check with the charge nurse before you cut the toe nails of a person with diabetes.
TAKING ORDERED MEDICATIONS
Diabetes is a very common chronic disease that affects many people. Health care workers who take care of people with diabetes should know about this disease and ways that they can best take care of them.
A person with diabetes can live a long and healthy life when this disease is controlled.
Hockenberry, Marilyn J. and David Wilson. (2010).Wong's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing. 8th Edition. Elsevier Mosby.
Nettina, Sandra M. (2009). The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice. 7th Ed. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.
Kee, Joyce LeFever and Evelyn Hayes. (2009). Pharmacology: A Nursing Process Approach 6th Edition. Saunders Elsevier.
Monahan, Frances Donovan and Wilma J. Phipps (2007). Phipps’ Medical-Surgical Nursing: Health and Illness Perspectives. 8th Edition. Elsevier Mosby.
Copyright © 2010 Alene Burke
TAKE THE TEST