How Can Nurses Help Diabetes Patients? 5 Things to Know

The biological process of turning food into energy is simple. You consume a meal, your body naturally produces the hormone insulin, and the sugars obtained from your food get turned into energy that your body uses right away or stores for later. Most of us have this mechanism of digesting our meals, but what happens when the body cannot produce insulin and keep up with the meals a person consumes? DiabetesThis is a long-lasting health condition that disrupts the way the body turns food into energy.

People who have diabetes are either struggling to produce enough insulin or can’t use insulin well, which prompts their blood sugar to rise. Unfortunately, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, more than 37 million in the US have diabetes, which means this condition is relatively common in 11.3% of the population.

How Can Nurses Help Diabetes Patients?

 So, as a nurse, what can you do to help such a big part of the population in fighting diabetes? Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Make Sure You Have the Acquired Credentials

Patients with diabetes need a long-term care plan to manage their symptoms and ensure their blood sugar stays in check. These include managing their diet, administering the proper medication, and providing recommendations for their lifestyle changes. Registered Nurses (RN) don’t have the clinical expertise to work with such patients. Diabetic patients need highly specialized care from medical staff who can order lab tests and study their lab reports to inform them of their prognosis.

Therefore, to provide this highly focused patient-centered care, you should look into NP certificate programs and enroll in coursework that can prepare you for your job. The clinical and theoretical skills your qualification provides you, along with research-backed-up knowledge, can help you care for diabetic patients in a highly informed manner.

  1. Educate Patients

Patients need to know what condition they are dealing with. When it comes to diabetes, patients cannot be careless about their health and need to understand how to manage their symptoms before their health further takes a turn for the worse. As a nurse, you need to educate patients on their health. Talk to them about their current situation, discuss their blood sugar levels, and inform them about safe blood sugar levels, along with practical advice on how they can maintain this number.

Furthermore, you must walk them through self-management techniques to monitor their blood sugar levels at home. Encourage them to purchase a glucose monitor and provide instructions on using it. You can conduct a practical demonstration by testing their blood sugar with the glucose monitor to help them understand further. Moreover, guide your patients in keeping a journal that can help them track down what time of the day their blood sugar level is high, what meals add to this fluctuation, and how fast their body responds to insulin. This data helps you create particular treatment plans.

  1. Provide Foot care

Diabetic patients are known to have foot problems. This is because high blood sugar damages the nerves and blood vessels in their feet, leading to diabetic neuropathy. Patients with damaged nerves often can’t feel their feet, so they won’t feel any pain if they have wounds, cuts, or blisters on their soles.

Likewise, their feet may be highly numb, aggravating to use, and constantly tingle, which can be a great source of discomfort. For this reason, there is a high chance they may have cuts and ulcers left untreated, resulting in an infection. The longer this stays untreated, the higher their chance of developing gangrene. This entails that their muscle, skin, and other tissues have started to die and may need amputation to curb the pathogen. This is why, as a nurse, you should regularly inspect your patient’s feet and provide adequate care accordingly.

  1. Create A Safe Space for Your Patients

Living with diabetes is not easy. Your patients may feel overwhelmed, distressed, and emotional upon learning about their diagnosis. Sometimes, your patients may also start exhibiting symptoms like anxiety, depression, and stress, which can be hard to pull them back from.

As a nurse, providing your patients with a safe space to express themselves is integral. Let them know you care and are here for them, including talking about coping strategies, expressing empathy, and allowing them to voice their concerns.

Understand that this is a tough time for your patients; they may need your compassion, support, and encouragement to look after themselves better. If your patient is extremely stressed out, you should connect them to a mental health professional and allow them to provide better care for their emotional state.

  1. Recommend Lifestyle Changes

The best way you can help your patients manage diabetes is by recommending helpful lifestyle changes. The food your patients eat and their physical activities make a difference to their overall well-being. Patients who have type 1 diabetes should try carb counting. This allows them to restrict the amount of carbohydrates they consume, making it easier to take insulin in a controlled amount.

On the other hand, if the patient has type 2 diabetes, they need to actively find ways to manage their weight since this can help them manage their blood sugar better. Talk to them about developing a physical fitness regime.

According to WebMD, patients with diabetes need to engage in 150 minutes of exercise each week. These can include jogging, aerobics, cardio, and high-intensity training.

Final Thoughts

Diabetes can be a complex condition to live with as it massively impacts insulin production. Consequently, patients living with diabetes may have a hard time managing their health and ensuring that they don’t get worse with time. So as a nurse, extend a helping hand to them and make it easier for your patients to look after themselves well. This includes discussing, guiding, and instructing them about diabetes in detail.

Your continuous support will help your patients get better, and for any medical practitioner, there is nothing better than witnessing your patients gradually heal.

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