Diabetes has been called an epidemic in America. A 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29.1 million people in the United States – almost 10 percent of the population – have the disorder. Of those, 8.1 million are undiagnosed.
The seventh leading cause of death in the nation, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems and lower limb amputation if not controlled. So what are the implications for worker safety?
The blood of a person with diabetes has too much glucose, resulting in possible health issues. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, which is needed to turn sugar and other food into energy. With type 2 diabetes – the most common type – the body improperly uses insulin, leading to abnormal blood glucose levels.
Concerns about worker safety focus mainly on hypoglycemia, a state of low blood glucose. Symptoms of hypoglycemia range from hunger and dizziness to confusion and unconsciousness. In contrast, hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose is high because the body has too little insulin or is improperly using insulin, resulting in symptoms such as hunger, thirst and frequent urination. Left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to diabetic coma.
“When sugar gets very high, it can affect their cognitive abilities, it can affect vision,” said Dr. Daniel Samo, member of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine board of directors and medical director of health promotion, and corporate services and public safety medicine divisions, at Northwestern Medical Group in Chicago.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Diabetes and Worker Safety.” For more information please visit www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.