The Facts Behind Diabetes

November is national diabetes awareness month, a time when we are supposed to spread the facts about diabetes. Despite all of the resources several reputable organizations post on the internet, rumors and myths about the disease still exist. When my team was assigned the task of creating a diabetes guide, one of our goals was to put some common myths to rest. As we conducted research for our project, here are two of the craziest myths we saw over and over again on different forums and blogs:

  • People with diabetes are more likely to catch a cold: This is completely false! People with diabetes are just as likely to catch a cold or other illness as everyone else. We think this myth started because people with diabetes tend to take more precautions to ensure they don’t get an illness, such as getting the flu shot. This is because it is more difficult to manage diabetes when ill. This can lead a person with diabetes to develop a complication. However, they aren’t more likely to catch the cold or flu in the first place.
  • If you are overweight you will develop type 2 diabetes: There are many factors that contribute to the likelihood that one develops diabetes. These include family history, age, and ethnicity. However, most people believe that being overweight is the only factor in determining whether one develops diabetes. The truth is that most people who are overweight never develop diabetes. On the other hand, just because you are at a normal weight doesn’t mean you can’t develop type 2 diabetes as well. So while being overweight can mean that you are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, it certainly doesn’t mean that you will.

Imagine if someone believed these myths to be true. A person who was at a normal weight might never think they have diabetes despite showing symptoms. This can have disastrous consequences considering the complications associated with leaving diabetes untreated. That’s why it’s important to share the truth behind diabetes:

How to Give a Glucagon Shot

Diabetics have a lot to deal with. They have to plan their meals and day according to their insulin shots, they have to deal with side effects and fatigue from their condition, and if their blood sugar gets too low (hypoglycemia) they must work to get it back normal or face being unconscious. This unconsciousness is what is called “diabetic coma” or “insulin shock”. A glucagon shot typically isn’t needed until the diabetic is not able to give him/herself the shot. A friend or family member must be trained on seeing the signs of low blood sugar and when all else fails, giving the glucagon shot.

How to Mix a Glucagon Shot
The glucagon shot is in a hard plastic case with a syringe of water and a vial of glucagon. This is what is mixed together and given as a shot. It is designed to up the diabetic’s blood sugar at least 30 mg/dl in less than five minutes.

•Take the syringe and plunge the liquid in the syringe into the vial.
•Mix thoroughly until the mixture is clear and vial contents are absorbed.
•Put syringe back into vial and draw out either 0.5 ml or 1ml depending on need.
The glucagon shot is now ready to be administered to the diabetic.

How to Give a Glucagon Shot
If the diabetic has gone into unconsciousness from low blood sugar, he/she cannot help themselves.

•Turn the diabetic to his side. Sometimes they’ll vomit upon coming back into consciousness.
•Pinch a section of thigh or other fatty area. With adults put needle in straight up and down and with children put needle in a 45 degree angle (they have less fat).
•Push the syringe’s plunger in with the amount needed. Adults and children over 55 pounds get the whole 1ml and children under 55 pounds get 0.5ml.
Have a backup shot ready in case it is needed later but the diabetic should come around in a few minutes; he will be disoriented and need to have explained what has happened.

This is a temporary fix to low blood sugar. After regaining consciousness, he’s tested his blood sugar levels with a glucose monitor, the diabetic should be fed something to keep his blood sugar up (a peanut butter sandwich is good for fast and long term blood sugar stabilization). Without giving him something to eat or drink afterwards there is a risk of hypoglycemia setting in again quickly and a new need for another shot.