Diabetes is not a barrier for people in the workplace. A person with diabetes can still work and function efficiently while they’re at work, as long as they have complete control over their diabetes. By making the necessary adjustments you can make your work life and diabetes get along.
It’s important to know that you are not required by law to inform your employer about your illness. However, hiding this condition may not be a good idea for you as an employee.
Allowing your colleagues and employers to know about your condition allows for better control in certain situations (the possibility suffering from a hypo- or hyperglycemia in the workplace).
Moreover, the employer must grant you the possibility to take small breaks to measure your glucose, inject insulin and/or consume carbohydrates in times of need. Either way, these “breaks” are generally not frequent, nor time consuming.
Up next, we will talk about 4 tips that you should consider when it comes to managing diabetes at work:
1. Managing Hypoglycemia
The possibility of experiencing hypoglycemia while at work is the first element to consider. Hypoglycemia can often be prevented and treated without any problem. After experiencing hypoglycemia, it is common to feel slight headaches and other symptoms. However, these symptoms are usually not severe enough to conflict with work.
Your coworkers can actually help in more serious cases, hence the importance of them knowing about your condition.
A person with diabetes can generally recognize the early signs of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia (hunger, tremors, sweating, anxiety, irritability, blurred vision, difficulty in concentration, confusion, etc.). Consumption of carbohydrates will aid in the fading of these symptoms. After a period of about 15 minutes, it is important to ensure you’ve overcome your hypoglycemia before continuing to eat more carbohydrates; in this case, slow digesting carbs.
2. Planning your Meals
People with diabetes have a greater need to consume carbohydrates at midmorning, do to the fact that lower blood sugar levels are more common during those hours. Eating a snack will help prevent hypoglycemia during this time.
Another important point to keep in mind is to avoid eating simple sugars during working hours, while also respecting mealtimes. Try to have sugary foods like candy and cookies nearby to control developing hypoglycemia.
3. Storing and Transporting Insulin
Avoid exposing insulin to less than 0 ° C or over 30 ° C by all means. Discard insulin decomposed by temperature related factors (when yellowish color). It is important to know that insulin reserves should be kept between 2° and 8 ° C in the refrigerator.
4. Informing your Coworkers
Although you may not want to, it is best to inform your colleagues, managers and friends at work about your diabetes. This will allow them to better assist you in the case of a medical emergency.
Explain to them the symptoms, treatment and everything you think may help in case of an emergency.
However, in case you lose consciousness, they should know not to try to make you ingest any liquids or solids; in these cases, it is especially important that a person knows how to safely administrate you a dose of glucagon (which should be stored at room temperature below 25 ° C).
To conclude and so you can be at ease at work, we present to you a summary of the main issues to consider when it comes to managing diabetes at the workplace:
- Follow the diet plan set by your dietitian.
- Respect meal times.
- Properly store your insulin.
- Inform your colleagues, managers and friends at work about your diabetes.
- In case of overexertion, it is important to have the right foods. Pick your foods according to the physical activity that you will encounter on that day.
- Carry a glucagon emergency kit, if instructed by your doctor.