Diabetes day by day
Managing diabetes in the workplace
Many people can manage their diabetes without being affected at work. However, a full work day may mean that you struggle with eating healthy, taking medication or keeping your blood glucose stable. Here are some things you can do to feel your best in the workplace.
Start the day right: Never miss breakfast. This can lead to
hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose), especially if you are on insulin
or a medication to increase your insulin levels. Hypoglycaemia can
affect your health, performance and safety at work.
- Plan your meals: Take your own healthy packed lunch and snacks to work – you'll know exactly what you're eating and be able to plan accordingly. If you use a canteen or shop, get to know the healthy choices
- Testing and injecting: Make sure you have access to a hygienic place where you can test and inject in comfort
- Pens and medication: Always keep a spare pen at work. If you need to store your medication in a refrigerator, label it clearly so it is not used or discarded by accident. Use medication before the expiry date and read the label for 'in-use' storage guidance
- Know your rights: The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has developed a Charter of Rights for people with diabetes that covers fair treatment, career progression and support in the workplace. Many countries have adopted similar charters
- Inform recruiters and employers: There are usually no legal requirements to tell recruiters about your diabetes. However, a new employer is allowed to ask appropriate health-related questions to ensure you are able to do the job
- Tell your colleagues: It's up to you whether you tell your colleagues. If you do, you may consider providing a simple explanation about diabetes and guidance on what to do if you experience hypoglycaemia so they feel confident about helping you if needed
Living with your daily insulin injection
Having an insulin injection routine can mean making accommodations to make sure you are able to check your blood glucose and take your medication when needed. Read on to find out what you can or should do when injecting insulin in different situations.
Sick Day Rules
When ill, even if you are not eating, blood glucose levels tend to rise:
What should I do?
- Always take your medication or insulin
- Seek medical
advice for your underlying illness and if you:
- are unable to keep fluids down
- continue to have abnormally high blood glucose levels
- have continuous diarrhoea or vomiting
- can’t eat for 24 hours
- have a raised temperature
- are worried
- It is likely you will need more insulin, especially if you are vomiting
- Test your blood glucose levels and ketones every 2-4 hours
- Drink plenty of unsweetened fluids e.g. water
- Take your insulin and eat your regular food if you are able
- Drink fluids containing full sugar such as 7UP*, if unable to eat
If you are playing sports
Generally, it is a good idea to take your insulin pen, a mobile phone and a sugary snack with you when exercising so that you are prepared in case of emergencies. Make sure you are wearing a medical alert that tells others you are on insulin.
Also, make sure you are not exposing the insulin in your pen to extreme temperatures (>25°C, <4°C), such as by leaving it in the sun or next to a frosty playing field.
Before starting any exercise programme, however, speak to your diabetes health care professional and ask for their advice. They will probably give you a general check-up and tell you how to adjust your food and medication, including insulin, to balance your blood glucose control accordingly.
To find out more about managing diabetes with exercise, read our section on getting active.