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There are currently around 4 million people in the UK diagnosed with diabetes. It is a condition that requires careful management throughout the day, and that doesn’t stop during working hours. It is therefore important that diabetic employees are supported in the workplace to manage their condition in order to lower their risk of developing diabetes-related complications. Employers can do so in a number of ways, and these reasonable adjustments can make all the difference to the health and wellbeing of their diabetic team members.
What is diabetes?
There are two main types of diabetes, both of which are lifelong conditions that cause a person’s blood glucose level to become too high.
In addition, some pregnant women may develop what is know as gestational diabetes where they have such high levels of blood glucose that their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all.
Causes of diabetes
Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin which controls the amount of glucose in your blood. When you eat and digest food, it enters your bloodstream, and it is the role of insulin to move the glucose out of your blood and into your cells where it is turned into energy. Those with diabetes, however, are unable to break down this glucose into energy.
The risks associated with diabetes
Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood glucose, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time it can lead to serious damage to nerves and blood vessels. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation. Worryingly, the number of cases of diabetes is on the rise and, according to the World Health Organization, between 2000 and 2016 there was a 5% increase in premature mortality from diabetes.
Lowering your risk of diabetes
Whilst the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown, scientists believe it could be caused by genes and environmental factors, such as viruses, that trigger the disease. No lifestyle changes will lower your risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
However, you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
All employees with diabetes have a right to a risk assessment and a right to ask for reasonable adjustments in the workplace to help them manage their condition. As a starter, the Occupational Healthcare experts at YourGP have compiled a list of suggested adjustments. However, it is important to remember that every diabetic is an individual. Therefore, it is always best to talk to them and find out if they have any other specific requirements that they feel could improve their working life.
If you would like help and advice from YourGP’s team of Occupational Healthcare experts about creating a safe and healthy working environment for all employees, make an appointment by calling 0131 225 5656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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