Education on Diabetes

First aid and diabetes education

What is the deal?

Unfortunately, diabetes can often be misrepresented in first aid courses. This can leads to confusion about what exactly diabetes is, and the differentiation between type 1 and type 2.

I often get asked ‘do you have the one with high sugar levels or low sugar levels’. This confusion comes from miseducation about diabetes.

So, lets dive into what first aid teaches, and more importantly how we can turn this into a positive learning point.

How does first aid teach diabetes?

In the UK, first aid courses teach diabetes as having two types:

  1. Low blood sugar
  2. High blood sugar

This creates the idea that type 1 means low blood sugar, and type 2 means high blood sugar. With there already being a big misconception about diabetes, I think this adds to misinformation.

Furthermore, first aid states casualties with diabetes must always be given sugar. If someone living with diabetes is unconscious or acting ‘like they are drunk’ it is most likely down to hypoglycaemia (low sugars). BUT, this behaviour could also be due to high blood sugar. This means giving sugar can sometimes do more harm than good.

How can education about diabetes be improved?

blood test - first aid

Rather than teaching diabetes this way, first aid should focus on teaching what diabetes actually is!

It is as simple as saying; type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas stops producing insulin (usually from a young age), and type 2 diabetes is when there is enough insulin, it just doesn’t work correctly. Both types of diabetes can cause high AND low blood sugar.

What to do if a person living with diabetes needs first aid

When I talk to people about diabetes, this is what I advise if a diabetic is unconscious, or has lost the ability to help themselves:

  1. Call an ambulance if the diabetic cannot help themselves
  2. Check their sugar levels if possible
FGM for blood sugar checking - first aid

This is becoming ever easier with the latest tech, so look at their upper arms or the stomach for an FGM or CGM monitor (like in the picture). You can use their phone or scanning device to look at their sugar levels for more information:

  • A low blood sugar reading = give them a source of fast acting glucose, (preferably a drink high in sugar with around 15g sugar).
  • A high blood sugar reading = do not do anything, wait for paramedics to arrive. NEVER inject insulin, only the person with diabetes should ever do this.

Most often, people living with diabetes will be able to feel if they have low glucose, so the majority of the time they might just ask you to get them a sugary drink. If this happens, stay with them until their sugars reach a safe level. (In this case an ambulance is not needed).

If sugars remain low after 15 minutes, give them another sugary drink until levels rise.

As a summary:

  • Low glucose = 15+15 (15g sugar, wait 15 minutes)
  • High glucose = wait for ambulance, or if they can take some insulin, stay with them until it kicks in

Thank you for reading First aid and diabetes education! I hope this makes diabetes less confusing, and you learned something new! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Diabetes technology 101! and How I ran Tough Mudder while managing Type 1!

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Education on Diabetes

Been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Here’s what to do!

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can feel helpless, daunting and isolating. But with the correct help you can still live a healthy life and potentially even reach remission!

What is type 2 diabetes

type 2 diabetes

Firstly, it is important to understand that type 2 diabetes is when blood sugar levels are too high due to insulin resistance. This means your body is still producing insulin, however the insulin is not interacting correctly with your cells.

It is also important to understand what remission from type 2 diabetes is. If diet and lifestyle is changed adequately (usually alongside taking any diabetic drugs prescribed), it can be possible to lower your HbA1c (average glucose in the blood) into normal range. If the diet and lifestyle returns to a high sugar and processed diet, it is very likely high glucose and diabetes will return.

This means it is incredibly important to change the diet and lifestyle to help bring glucose levels into the normal range.

What diet and lifestyle changes to make

healthy foods - type 2 diabetes

Firstly, the amount of sugar and processed foods must be decreased to prevent spikes.

Think about adding as much colour to your diet as possible, and eat the rainbow. Different coloured fruit and vegetables contain different micronutrients that are vital for our health. So try and aim for 7-10 a day, rather than 5!

Increase your fibre intake! Swap white carbs for brown, as this helps sugar levels to remain stable and helps digestion. Increase lean protein intake (chicken, turkey and fish) and eat vegetable protein sources. This can include tofu, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds!

Finally, get yourself moving! Sedentary lifestyles have a very close connection with the onset of type 2. So increase your exercise levels by walking, swimming, hitting the gym or whatever type of exercise you enjoy!

How to keep track of your sugar levels

Quite a lot of the time healthcare teams fail to educate people living with type 2 diabetes about how and why they must keep close check of sugar levels.

A small amount of people living with type 2 diabetes have access to pricker sets to check blood glucose. It is absolutely vital everyone living with type 2 has access to this equipment. Being able to check your sugar levels daily helps to identify when your sugars are spiking.

Check blood pressure - type 2 diabetes

If you have the money I would highly recommend purchasing a testing kit to help you reach your HbA1c goal and better your health.

I would recommend starting with 4 tests a day, when waking, before lunch and dinner and before bedtime. If you feel unwell do a test to see if this is being caused by high or low blood sugars.

It is possible for low blood sugar levels to occur so please keep a snack and your kit with you at all times.

I would also recommend looking at your cholesterol levels as well as your blood pressure. If these are both high you should talk to your doctor about next steps!

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Thank you so much for reading what to do after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes! I hope this helps and please reach out to me if you have any questions or need any support at all. Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this blog, be sure to check out 5 foods to limit if you’re living with diabetes! and 5 foods diabetics should be eating!