Health education helps one understand what one is facing or about to face, and helps develop self confidence and self reliance. So patient education is of utmost importance in a disease as complex as diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Mellitus, as you all know is a group of metabolic diseases characterised by Hyperglycaemia (increased blood sugar) affecting eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels.
Patient education is required in terms of :
1. Nutrition (food intake)
2. Importance of exercise and
3. Methods of self-monitoring
This prevents type 2 diabetes and effectively managed Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. The purpose is to help make better choices in reducing risk and controlling sugar levels and thus, the quality of life. Weight loss is the most important factor – 1 kilo weight loss reduces the risk by 16%. You can minimise the risk significantly through –
a.Weight loss of at least 5-7%
b.Lifestyle intervention – energy restriction (expending more energy than you consume) and switching to a low fat diet.
c.Lowering the intake of saturated fats and
d.Increasing the intake of unsaturated fats which are more protective
e.Increasing the consumption of dietary fibre and whole grains
f.Low fat dairy, green leafy vegetables, coffee reduce the risk of Type 2.
Importance of Exercise
Significance of exercise in prevention of diabetes has been known for a very long time. Vigorous exercise helps in controlling sugar and keeping it’s ill effects at bay. during exercise the overall consumption of oxygen increases approximately by 20 times. Exercise thus hips in controlling hyperglycaemia, cholesterol levels and metabolic syndrome. The patient must be evaluated before exercise for cardiovascular system and any other associated peri-atrial disease, retinopathy or neuropathy.
Self-monitoring of Blood Sugar
This is an essential part pf patient education especially for those who are on insulin. Urinary dip stick tests are also available for blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels are also noted and the treating doctor can be inferred accordingly.
Patient education can be achieved by various methods –
• One-to-one chat/discussion/education.
• Group discussions – Most useful method
• Intergroup discussion and conferences
• Through visiting nurse or social workers
• Pairings and Pictures
• Printed literature eg: Pamphlets, magazines, articles, etc.
• Health education camps
• Computer based programs in clinics
• Public awareness programmes – Advertisements on TV and Public information sections in newspapers.