World Diabetes Day: “Diabetes and the Family”

World diabetes day (WDD) is being observed today, November 14, 2019, under the theme “Diabetes and the Family.”

“The primary aim of the World Diabetes Day and World Diabetes Month 2019 campaign is to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and to promote the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of the condition.”

The WDD 2019 has three main focus areas:

Diabetes is a disease characterized by high blood sugar because there is not enough insulin or the insulin present is not effective.

Diabetes is a chronic disease.  It cannot be cured but it can be controlled without or with medication.  It cannot be transmitted to someone else.

One in eleven people in the world have diabetes, 90% have type 2 diabetes.  50% of persons with type 2 do not know that they have diabetes.

If not treated properly some of the complications are blindness, amputations, kidney failure, heart disease, strokes, and early death.

Diabetes is not an individual concern.  It is a disease which concerns the family. 

The family must know:

  • The risk factors for developing diabetes
  • How to recognize the signs of diabetes
  • How to recognize the complications of diabetes.
  • The management of diabetes.
  • How the family is affected
  • Their support is important to the diabetic patient.

Ø  45 or older

Ø  Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander

Ø  Have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes

Ø  Overweight and increase waist measurement

Ø  Physically inactive

Ø  Have high blood pressure or take medicine for high blood pressure

Ø  Have low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides

Ø  Had diabetes during pregnancy

Ø  Have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome



Ø  Passing urine often especially at night.

Ø  Excessive thirst and craving for sweet drinks

Ø  Extreme hunger making one eat more than before

Ø  Dry skin with increase itching

Ø  Weakness or feeling tired much of the time (fatigue)

Ø  Recurring or slow-healing infections or sores

Ø  Unexplained weight loss (usually with high blood sugars)

Ø  Blurred vision

Ø  Tingling in the hands or feet

Ø  Mood changes, irritability

Ø  Nausea and vomiting especially in type 1 diabetes

Ø  Itching and irritation of vagina/penis, thick white discharge

Ø  Skin Infections

Ø  Urine infection

Ø  A skin disorder with dark, thick, velvet-textured skin in body folds especially at the back of the neck




Low blood sugar

  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Weakness
  • Hunger
  • Anxiety
  • Altered state of consciousness

Heart disease The leading cause of death in diabetics.

  • Recognize heart failure: Shortness of breath, swelling of feet, rapid / irregular heartbeat.


  • Sudden weakness of one side of the body
  • Numbness on one side of the face, in one arm or leg
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes, and
  • Dizziness

Peripheral artery disease (PAD)  caused by a blockage of arteries in legs.

  • Pain in one or both legs, especially while walking or exercising, that disappears a few minutes after resting
  • A tingling sensation, numbness or a cold feeling in your feet
  • Injuries or infections in your feet or legs that have trouble healing.

Kidney failure

  • Swollen feet, ankles or legs.

Nerve Damage

  • Decrease feelings especially in feet or legs. This is why many diabetics hurt themselves and don’t realize it. Examine the skin for wounds or irritation daily.
  • Tingling sensation, burning or pain in some parts of the body.

Skin Infections

  • Uncontrolled blood sugar is ideal for germs to infect the skin and makes the body immune system weak and harder for the body to heal the skin infections.  Therefore examine skin especially of feet daily.

Eye complications

  • Poor vision due to diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.  Most people with diabetic retinopathy are not aware that their eyes are affected. Remind the diabetic to have an eye examination yearly.

Stomach problem

  • Nausea and vomiting because the stomach takes a longer time to digest and empty its content.

Sexual problems in both men and women

  • Decrease interest in sex
  • Erectile dysfunction (difficulty in penis getting hard)

Mouth problems

  • Problems with teeth and gums.  Regular visits to the dentist


Psychological effects of diabetes

  • Denial. One of the major psychological effects of diabetes is denial.
  • Depression. Some people feel sad, confused and helpless after being diagnosed       with diabetes.
  • Embarrassment. Many people feel embarrassed about their condition and may not let anyone even their family members know they have diabetes.
  • Acceptance. It is quite often the last step of the psychological effects


  • Get informed about diabetes
  • Control blood sugar
  • Control blood pressure
  • Control cholesterol
  • Weight loss to ideal weight for height
  • Increase physical activity
  • Diet changes for the family: Increase portions of vegetables and  decrease portion sizes of starchy foods which includes sugary foods and drinks.
  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Psychological support
  • Low blood sugar: glucose, sweetened juice or water, honey or a candy

The diabetic may lose their income because of complications like blindness, amputations strokes and demands of dialysis.  The income of the family will be affected because of  that loss of income and increase expenses to provide the medical care needed.

The family of someone with diabetes may experience stress and anxiety associated with they not knowing enough about diabetes, its complications and how to help.

Family members should be an enabler in good choices for diet and physical activity. The family should eat the same diet as the diabetic.

The family of the diabetic should inspire them with love, not criticism and lead by example.

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