This article originally published on GetHealthyStayHealthy
There’s a good chance that someone you know has diabetes. It is a disease that affects more than 30 million people in the US—about 9% of the population. With those numbers, you’d think we would be more accustomed to hearing about and supporting people with diabetes. But in fact, they often face misunderstanding and stigma. People with diabetes are often exposed to mistaken notions that diabetes is not a serious illness and can be easily managed with lifestyle changes such as diet or activity changes. When told, explicitly or implicitly, that having diabetes is a sign of personal weakness and failure, people with diabetes may suffer from guilt, shame, embarrassment, and isolation. Such feelings are reported not only by adults but also by children living with diabetes and their parents.
The damage inflicted by stigma goes far beyond the emotional toll. People with diabetes who reported feeling stigmatized have been shown to have poorer diabetes control, including higher A1C levels, a higher body mass index (BMI), and a higher rate of self-reported uncontrolled diabetes.
Let’s do a better job of supporting our friends and family members living with this condition. Here are some ways you can combat stigma and support the people you know with diabetes.
You should also encourage the person to follow their healthcare provider’s advice for physical activity, and even better, you can even join them in the activities.
Even if you mean well, avoid giving advice (when not asked for) about eating habits or other aspects of diabetes care. Leave it to the person’s healthcare provider to work with the person to manage their diabetes.
Other signs of high blood sugar that you may notice include being thirstier than usual and urinating frequently. Other signs of low blood sugar include nervousness, confusion, pale skin color, having little or no energy, and clumsiness.
By understanding that diabetes is a disease that requires careful and lifelong monitoring and management, you can take steps to support the people in your life with diabetes while also helping to remove stigma and replace it with acceptance.
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