Decoding the Wellness of Employees Suffering From Diabetic Amyotrophy
Over the last few decades, diabetes has increasingly affected many working professionals, disturbing their workplace wellness. Diabetes is no more a topic that could be taken causally, and it is very important now for organizations to address the elephant in the room. More complex disorders associated with diabetes like Diabetic amyotrophy have brought sudden roadblocks and challenges for employers.
According to the World Health Organization, 8.5 percent of adults worldwide now have diabetes. This is nearly double the number of people affected in 1980. And the trend has been continuously moving in the wrong direction for quite a while now.
Diabetes can no longer be perceived as a problem in wealthy countries. Today, it is a chronic situation in many low- and middle-income countries, which account for nearly two-thirds of cases worldwide. And the global prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase even further by around 37 percent over the next two decades.
Diabetes and its Types
Diabetes Mellitus is a disorder in the metabolic system of the body. It leads to the disruption in insulin production or the use of insulin by the body, or both.
As a result, there is extra glucose in the blood but a deficit in the body organs. Over time, elevated blood glucose levels can cause blood vessels to become hard and clogged.
This causes heart disease and stroke, the primary cause of death for diabetic people.
Heart attacks experienced by people with diabetes are fatal and more likely to cause death. In fact, the risk of heart attack and stroke is almost double among diabetic people! Uncontrolled diabetes can also result in vision loss and kidney failure.
There are three types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes
It is an auto-immune disease where the pancreas loses its ability to produce insulin. People living with type 1 diabetes require insulin in their daily life.
Type 2 Diabetes
It develops when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Sometimes the body may also stop effectively using the produced insulin. Many people with type 2 diabetes manage their situation with proper diet and regular exercise, while others need to take medications.
The condition develops in a pregnant woman when the body stops producing adequate insulin. It affects around 2%-4% of all pregnancies. This form of diabetes is periodic and usually goes away after the birth of the baby. However, later in their life, both the mother and the child remain at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Effects of Diabetes
When the pancreas does not produce insulin, glucose gradually builds up in the blood. This condition is called hyperglycemia. Fluctuations in blood glucose levels outside the normal range can lead to serious health consequences. Such health complications involve the blood vessels and nerves.
Diabetes can lead to-
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
The body starts to use fat when it runs out of glucose. As a result, ketones are produced by the cells that are then released into the blood. Some of these ketones pass out of the body with the urine.
However, high ketone levels in the blood make it acidic. In diabetic people, this is called diabetic ketoacidosis(DKA). If not treated, DKA can lead to coma or death. DKA is more common in people with type 1 diabetes but can also happen to type 2 diabetes.
Hypoglycemia is another situation that can also occur. Hypoglycemia is the condition of too little glucose in the blood. It can happen when insulin removes too much glucose from the blood due to increased physical activity, skipped meals, or too much medication.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Symptoms linked to the development of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Optical issue
- Untimely hunger
- Weakened Immune system
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Extreme Fatigue
- Lack of Energy
- Occasional Disorientation
- Slow-healing of cuts
- Numbness in the hands and feet
What is Diabetic Amyotrophy?
Diabetes comes with lots of potential complications. Diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, is one of the most common ones.
There are various rare types of diabetic neuropathy, with diabetic amyotrophy being the most common one.
It affects nearly 1% of diabetic adults. It acts differently from other kinds of diabetic neuropathy and sometimes can become quite fatal.
Most of the time, diabetic amyotrophy attacks the nerves of-
It is most likely to occur in patients with type-II diabetes. It usually causes a very painful experience in the affected muscles.
The onset of the typical symptoms is sudden and usually occurs on one side of the body. But sometimes, it may involve both sides.
As the nerves around the thighs and legs are affected, those employees who have to work on despite living with this disorder face a lot of difficulty in the workplace.
They may find it difficult to get out of their chairs. It impedes normal walking movement and physical activities, much more important to maintain their health.
Who is at Risk?
Older men are more likely to acquire diabetic amyotrophy, although it may not be necessary. Sometimes it can occur in youths too, but the percentage is smaller. It is still not clear what actually causes diabetic amyotrophy, but high blood sugar is linked with damage to nerves.
How does Diabetic Amyotrophy Affect Workplace Wellness?
Diabetic Amyotrophy affects the nerves and muscles in the body. Employees suffering from this disorder find a tough time balancing work and their health. Following are the ways in which Diabetes and the associated complications affect Employee wellness-
1. Increased Absenteeism
Employees with Diabetic Amyotrophy find it tough to live upto the demands of daily routine. Such employees face pain in joints, muscles, and thighs which can make it difficult for them to sit for long periods and focus on work.
As the movement of such employees is affected, it is difficult for them to maintain their physical health. This in turn causes other health concerns like heart disease, obesity, etc for the employees.
2. Impaired productivity
According to dQ&A, Employees living with type 1 diabetes reported a 23% loss in work productivity due to diabetes. Those employees with type 2 diabetes reported a dip of around 20% in productivity.
These figures don’t lie, and rightly so! It is a tough ask for them to take care of themselves as well as maintain their optimum level of productivity.
3. Prone to Discrimination
Well, it may not be a very far-fetched argument that employees having Diabetic amyotrophy can face discrimination in the workplace. There can be different ways in which they can be given unfair treatment. Some of the common situations can be-
Disagreement with an employee’s demand for a meal at his period of ease.
Sometimes there is a need for such employees for a private and hygienic space to check their blood glucose levels or to take their insulin. Unwillingness from the side of the employer to provide a private and clean work environment can be a form of discrimination.
Limiting the job responsibilities of such employees.
Refusal in sanctioning of promotions and training after knowing about the diabetic situation of the employees.
Fires an employee after diagnosing diabetes.
4. Mental Health Issues
Diabetes can also have an effect on the mental health of the employees. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes are 3 times more likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression than people without diabetes.
It is also a very unfortunate situation that only 25 to 50 percent of people with diabetes receive treatment for depression. Untreated depression not just impacts the quality of life, but also impacts the ability of an employee to function at work. One study found that depression costs U.S. employers $44 billion a year in lost productivity!
5. Health Costs burden on Employers
Diabetes is a costly problem for employers across the globe. According to the American Diabetic Association, It is estimated to cost almost $90 billion including:
- Inability to work because of diabetes-related disability ($2.3 Billion)
- Lost productivity caused by premature deaths from diabetes ($19.9 Billion)
Direct costs would come somewhere around $237 Billion. This will include medical care, treatment and hospitalization, and other relevant costs.
Diabetic amyotrophy shares some very common symptoms with other medical conditions. This helps in the proper diagnosis of the disease, which we know quite little about. It is a vital cog in the wheel to formulate an effective treatment.
Degenerative spine disease, which leads to pain in the thighs.
Infarction of muscles due to diabetes. It causes pain and swelling in the thigh muscles.
Sharp pain and burning sensation are felt in the region around the thighs, caused by Meralgia paresthetica.
A doctor may conduct some of these tests to find the root of the visible symptoms:
- To diagnose diabetes after a series of blood tests.
- To test for the signs of inflammation, the doctor may take some of the spinal fluid in a test called- Spinal tap.
- CT scan
- To check the health of nerves, Electromyography is done.
"I have high blood sugar, and Type 2 diabetes is not going to kill me. But I just have to eat right, and exercise, and lose weight, and watch what I eat, and I will be fine for the rest of my life." - Tom Hanks
Although Diabetic Amyotrophy has a low fatality rate, yet it is a very troublesome experience for people to manage diabetes and the associated complications.
Following are some of the treatment methods and solutions given by the doctors-
1. Tight diabetes control
One of the most important things to do while dealing with diabetic amyotrophy is to control blood sugar levels. Apart from the essential selfcare, medication, diet, and exercise all play key roles in helping one do this.
2. Medications for pain relief
Long-lasting nerve-related pain has been solved with medications like Gabapentin and pregabalin.
3. Physical therapy
It can help in maintaining and improving muscle strength. It can help to ease the pain in the muscles. Consult a physical trainer who can guide you efficiently on how to do the muscle exercises correctly.
Most people with diabetic amyotrophy get much of their strength back after a particular point in time. It may take around a year before amyotrophic patients may start to feel better.
Desired Adjustments in the Workplace for Accommodating Employees having Diabetic Amyotrophy
A workspace should provide secured access to glucose checking equipment, medicines, and insulin.
Allowing extra breaks to check their blood glucose levels, take regular meals, treat hypoglycemic episodes, and take their insulin.
Timely breaks in the middle of work.
Confidentiality and respect for handling the affected employees.
Flexibility for medical appointments.
Individual workplace adjustment for ill employees.
First aid facilities like bandages, syringes, etc.
Diabetic employees can and do serve as a highly productive component of the workforce. Although every employee with diabetes will not be qualified to perform every available job, reasonable adjustments can be made to allow the vast majority of employees to effectively perform to the best of their abilities.
The effect of diabetes and the necessary therapies vary greatly from individual to individual. Employers must consider the capacities of every employee on an individual basis. Employees with diabetes should always be evaluated with the assistance of experienced health professionals.
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