Approximately 6.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and it is estimated that 50% of all persons in the United States who have diabetes are undiagnosed.  Diabetes is the fourth killer in the United States, usually related to coronary heart disease or stroke.  It is the chief cause of blindness, renal failure and amputations and is the leading cause of birth defects.

Diabetes education can increase the length of life and can improve the quality of life by decreasing complications related to the disease.  In short, the main objectives in teaching diabetes education are to normalize blood glucose levels, encourage regular mealtimes, achieve and maintain ideal body weight within 90-120% according to age and to prevent or minimize complications related to the disease.   The following are suggestions for topics to cover while providing diabetes education.  This should be individualized according to the patient and/or family needs.

  • Basic facts
    • Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 and which the patient has
    • Health implications
  • Blood sugar range goal: (80-120 mg/dl and 100-140 mg/dl at HS, this may vary per physician order
  • Signs and Symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
    • How to recognize hypoglycemia and treatment options.  Blood sugar <70 mg/dl, treat with 15-30 g of simple carbohydrates and retest in 15 minutes
  • Affects of food intake, activity, stress and medications on blood sugars
    • Continue insulin/oral medications during illnesses
    • Benefits of activity on glucose levels
    • Name of oral diabetes medications and or insulin with potential risk for hypoglycemia and dosages
    • Meals/Snacks at consistent times in appropriate amounts
    • Physical and/or emotional stress can cause an increase in blood sugar
  • Tips for dining out and how to read food labels
  • Discuss emotional eating
  • Referrals to community agency and/or outpatient class