The Importance of Diabetes Education
As of 2015, the American Diabetes Association estimates that about 30.3 million Americans are living with diabetes. About 7.2 million of those people haven’t been properly diagnosed. With more than 1.5 million cases diagnosed every year, diabetes is taking a toll on Americans’ health, taxing health care resources, and causing financial strain on families dealing with the disease. That’s why taking a proactive approach to diabetes education is paramount to helping you or your family member manage the condition.
What Is Diabetes Education?
Diabetes education provides the tools to help you effectively manage your diabetes. Education materials provided by the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators focus on teaching you about proper nutrition, the importance of exercise, how to monitor your blood sugar, how to use your medication, and much more.
Why is Diabetes Education So Important?
Diabetes is different from other chronic diseases that can be managed by medication alone. With diabetes education, you get an overall understanding of how to manage many different aspects of your lifestyle and effectively control the disease. Many patients simply don’t realize how serious diabetes can be. Some patients may feel extra education isn’t necessary since they take their insulin and usually feel fine, but waiting for symptoms to appear can be even more dangerous to their health. The bottom line is that when you learn the proper tools to control diabetes, diabetes won’t control you, and that translates into fewer health complications and a better outlook on life.
What Do You Learn from a Diabetes Education Program?
When you take part in a diabetes education program, you’ll learn how to control your disease. Consistently managing your blood sugar levels will help you reduce the risk of suffering from these diabetes-related conditions:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Eye diseases
- Kidney diseases
- Nerve damage
Educational materials emphasize that self-management of diabetes is the best way to keep one step ahead of the disease. You’ll learn:
- What diabetes is and how it affects your body
- How to properly use insulin and other necessary medications
- How to properly monitor your blood sugar levels
- Why exercise is important for managing diabetes
- What health complications to be on the lookout for
- Why nutrition and diet is vital to controlling the disease
- How to cope with the struggles and stress of dealing with a chronic disease
Diabetes education can be one-on-one or provided in a group setting. Registered nurses and registered dietitians are most likely to conduct the education program since doctors can’t spend extended amounts of time with each patient. When you attend a diabetes education program, you can expect to receive four to fifteen hours of diabetes information over the course of two to three months.
Whom Should You Include in Your Diabetes Education Program?
Diabetes education should be considered a team effort. Your diabetes team should include:
- Your primary doctor treating your diabetes
- A certified diabetes instructor
- A certified nutritionist
- An exercise consultant
A team approach will give you the best overall chance to successfully control your diabetes. If you can’t locate all of these professionals, your doctor can direct you to health centers where diabetes education programs are available. Sharing your experiences in a group setting is helpful while one-on-one counseling is vital since every patient has different needs and lifestyles.
To find out more about diabetes education in Olympia, WA, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawna Purcell. Dr. Purcell and her team at Capital Diabetes & Weight Loss Center specialize in all aspects of diabetes treatment and will help you get your condition under control.