After eating a meal, the digestive system metabolizes food into small molecules. Carbohydrates break down into small sugar molecules called glucose which travels throughout the bloodstream to all body regions. Cells absorb glucose and use it for energy.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and helps regulate glucose levels in the blood. If glucose levels get too high, insulin signals your body to store excess glucose in the liver to use later. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that typically arises when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not respond appropriately to insulin. Excess glucose in the bloodstream can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, nerve and vision problems. For people with high glucose levels, insulin injections into the bloodstream help reduce and control glucose levels.
Occupational therapists (OTs) have many roles when working with people at risk or currently have diabetes. For example, OTs may help modify a person's routines and habits to promote a healthier lifestyle. The Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists have seven self-care behaviours that OTs can use with clients. These behaviours include:
Healthy Coping: develop strategies to physically and emotionally cope.
Healthy Eating: help manage the intake of food that affects blood sugar levels.
Being Active: physical activity helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Monitoring: check your blood sugar levels regularly.
Medication: educate on different types of available medications and reduce complications.
Problem Solving: help develop plans for the future.
Reducing Risks: lowers the chance of developing diabetes-related complications.
Reference: AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors for Managing Diabetes Effectively. https://www.diabeteseducator.org/living-with-diabetes/aade7-self-care-behaviors. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.