Preventing Diabetes: The Travel Nurse’s Role
During National Diabetes Month, and throughout the year, travel RNs can educate and help prevent type 2 diabetes
By Andrya Feinberg, contributor
Onward Healthcare’s travel nurses are passionate about patient care, including educating people about disease prevention and management. During the month of November--American Diabetes Month--travel nurses can join with doctors, hospital staff and health organizations to raise awareness and educate others on this global epidemic. In fact, as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes deserves our attention throughout the year.
The facts about diabetes
Diabetes affects millions of people around the world. It is a chronic, metabolic disease where a person’s blood glucose levels are elevated. Over time, the condition can lead to serious damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves.
There are two main types of diabetes, one of which can normally be prevented: type 2. Yet these cases have been increasing rapidly over the years, due in part to rising obesity rates and unhealthy lifestyle habits. The World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and other organizations hope to reverse this trend through greater awareness, education and prevention.
Travel nurses and other healthcare professionals can help fight diabetes by sharing the facts and educating those at risk about causes, symptoms and consequences. They can also help patients who are afflicted to manage their symptoms and support the best outcomes possible.
Here are some quick facts about diabetes:
• 422 million people today have diabetes around the world, according to WHO
• 29.1 million Americans (9.3% of the population) are estimated to have diabetes, according to the CDC, including diagnosed and undiagnosed cases
• Diabetes is the nation’s 7th leading cause of death – causing more deaths than breast cancer and AIDS combined¹
• 86 million Americans are at risk for diabetes, or prediabetic¹
• Type 1 diabetes – only 5% of Americans with diabetes have this type¹
o The body does not produce enough insulin
o Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine, thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue
o Cannot be prevented
o Usually diagnosed in children and young adults
• Type 2 diabetes – 95% of diabetes cases in the U.S.¹
o The body does not use insulin effectively
o Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine, thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue (to a lesser extent than Type 1 diabetes)
o Often diagnosed later in life, but becoming more common in all age groups
o Can usually be prevented through a healthy diet and exercise
• Gestational diabetes is when the body becomes hyperglycemic (raised blood sugar) with above-normal values in women during pregnancy
o Gestational diabetes increases the risk for getting type 2 diabetes¹
• Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, amputation and blindness
¹Find more statistics about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.
Helpful tips to prevent diabetes
Some patients have risk factors for type 2 diabetes that they can’t change, such as family history, but everyone can do their part to prevent it. Travel nurses can share these basic tips with patients to lower the risk of diabetes, as put forth by the ADA and other groups:
• Maintain a healthy body weight and normal cholesterol levels
• Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily
• Eat a healthy diet of at 3-5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day
• Reduce sugars and saturated fat
• Do not smoke
Find more diabetes resources:
• American Diabetes Association
• CDC – Diabetes Information
• WHO – Global Diabetes Information
Are you ready to help fight diabetes, by sharing your knowledge and skills with patients across the country? Find your next travel nursing job with Onward Healthcare.
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