A study in Diabetes Care in June 2005 represents an important accomplishment for people who take insulin. In this study, researchers looked at 243 employees (ranging in age from 20 to 69) who were taking insulin for diabetes. Over a 12-month period, researchers recorded the frequency, severity, and consequences of hypoglycemia occurring at work or elsewhere. (They focused on hypo-glycemia because it's the most common complication that employers point to as the reason they don't want to hire people with diabetes.)
During the period of study, there were 1,995 episodes of hypoglycemia that were mild and could be treated by the patients. There were an additional 238 severe episodes that required help from someone else. Of the severe episodes, 62 percent happened at home, 15 percent occurred at work, and 23 percent occurred elsewhere. (Fifty-two percent of the severe episodes occurred during sleep.)
As for the consequences of severe hypoglycemia, 14 percent of the patients being studied lost consciousness, 9 percent had seizures, 2 percent had head injuries, 2 percent had other injuries, 1 percent injured someone else, and 1 percent damaged property. Severe hypoglycemia in the workplace was associated with six episodes of minor soft-tissue injury.
The authors concluded the following about severe hypoglycemia in the workplace:
ii It's uncommon. i It seldom causes disruption.
i It rarely causes serious health effects to the patient or others.
i Its infrequency and mild effects in the workplace don't justify restriction of employment for people with diabetes who take insulin.
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Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...