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How to deal with diabetes at workplace

November 13, 2013 16:10 IST

How to deal with diabetes at workplace

Dr Shalini Jaggi

9 tips to help you manage the silent killer at work

It is hard to deny that most of us live life at a breakneck speed owing to the nature of a fast-paced society, where numerous obligations can easily overpower our precious time and resources. But for people with diabetes, both physical and emotional stress can take a greater toll on health.

A diabetes patient is supposed to eat proper meals in a day, check their blood sugar level at certain times and get regular exercise and consistent sleep. Diabetes is a disease that affects the concerned person’s life every day. One of the many struggles of living with a chronic illness is balancing the obligations of the disease with the requirements of one’s workplace, where s/he spends the majority of hours in a day.

Although diabetes is considered a manageable disease but controlling it at work becomes tough. One is too busy to spare time for proper eating, taking medications or check their sugar levels during long hours of work. The trouble doubles for people working in shifts, which not only contributes to change in appetite and fluctuation in weight but also digestive problems like constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion and heartburn.

Many a times people with diabetes live with the fear of being stigmatised on the job because of their condition and thus allow their blood sugar levels to be too high during the day as work becomes a higher priority than diabetes management.

Diabetes is unique to each person. Therefore, a diabetes management plan is also unique to each person’s needs. However, this chronic illness should not stop a person from holding on to a secure or a well-loved job or even restrain one from discharging his or her duties in the line of work.

By making small yet necessary changes in their daily regime at work for the management of diabetes, one can continue working just the way they have been doing till date. All it requires is patience and planning.

By following these simple tips, one can work effectively with diabetes and contribute to your employer's success:

1. A diabetic person is required to keep a detailed paper record of all the meals, activities, sleep, work hours, medications, and blood sugar for the day. This will help the person in spotting his/her blood sugar patterns in order to make necessary adjustments as required.

2. A diabetic should not miss any of the meals in a day. Skipping meals may actually increase one’s blood glucose and cause weight gain.

3. It is necessary to match the medications according to the meals. Taking medication regardless of when one is eating can lead to swings in blood sugar levels and low blood sugars. One should visit a doctor if experiencing swings in blood sugars.

4. Snacking at office parties should be avoided. Instead one should choose healthier options available at the venue like brown bread sandwich or salads. High-fiber, slowly digested, healthy snacks helps to curb hunger while producing a steady release of blood sugar to help control diabetes.

5. One should keep sugar-free biscuits and roasted chanas handy with them to pop in their mouth during long meetings. Snacking between long intervals of meals can help one achieve best blood glucose control.

6. A diabetic person should keep on stretching their feet at regular intervals and take short breaks. Getting up from the seat after every two hours and taking a walk around the working arena can be highly beneficial. Such small physical activities can help lower blood glucose, blood pressure, bad cholesterol and keep the joints flexible besides reducing the stress levels.

7. If one is on insulin, one should carry a glucometer always at work to keep a check on the blood sugar level a few times during the shift. Diabetics need to make changes in their diet and medication according to their work shifts. For this, they should consult their diabetologist.

8. Diabetes patients should keep themselves hydrated throughout the day in order to let their bodies function properly. If dehydrated, it can raise the blood sugar levels, harm kidneys and increase the risk of nerve damage for the patient.

9. Some people with diabetes feel embarrassed to divulge their diabetes status to their colleagues. However, to protect oneself, one may find it in his/her best interest to let the employer and co-workers know. Then, should one have a diabetes-related emergency at work, help can be arranged quickly.

Dr Shalini Jaggi is a Senior Consultant, Diabetology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute

Photographs: Dominic Xavier/