More than just a companion, a dog can be a guardian angel. Diabetes Assist Dogs are trained to monitor smells in the air for a specific scent on the human breath that is related to rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels. They are then trained to “alert” the person with diabetes, usually by touching them in a significant way such as pawing or nudging them. This alerts the person to check his or her blood sugar level. It also informs them that they should get something to eat to prevent hypoglycemia, or their blood sugars getting to a dangerous level. The canine partner can also be trained to retrieve juice or glucose tabs, get an emergency phone, or get help from another person in the house.
Diabetes Assist Dogs wear a backpack identifying them as an assistance dog. This backpack has pockets where medical information, a sugar source, and emergency contact information can be stored. This provides an extra safety net in case the person with diabetes is unable to get help in time. Anyone finding the person unconscious or acting abnormally would know it may be a medical emergency and know how to get help.
How can a dog detect low blood sugar?
The dogs are evaluated throughout “puppy-hood” for a willingness to work and a sensitive nose. Once we have identified their interest in smells, they begin scent training. A person experiencing hypoglycemia produces a particular scent, found on the breath, due to chemical changes in their body. All people produce the same scent when they have low blood sugar. Our training methods are similar to those used to train drug sniffing or search and rescue dogs trained to find people.
Source: Can Do Canines
Balanced meals, use of medicines or insulin injections, control of blood sugar levels … Diabetes forces you to follow a set of relatively restrictive rules to avoid complications. When it is unbalanced, it can also cause discomfort related to hypo or hyperglycemia. A painful situation for not only the person affected but also for his entourage. More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes, but there are also millions of spouses, partners, parents and children who support them.
The spouse, in particular, does not always know what attitude to adopt to motivate the person with diabetes in order to follow his treatments, to avoid any emergencies or to show his support without feeling invasive or too demanding.
1. Learn about diabetes
Understanding what your partner is going through is important in two ways: It makes you more present in your partner’s life, and it helps you both feel confident in case of an emergency. Look for useful information on blood glucose monitoring, meal planning, medicines, exercise..
2. Share meals
The pace and composition of meals leave little room for unforeseen events. To help the person with diabetes, these meals times must still be moments of sharing and conviviality, which forces other members of the family to follow the same rules. But keep in mind that some people with diabetes absolutely can not skip meals, or eat some desserts … so try not to tempt them.
3. Emotional support
Like any chronic disease, diabetes reaches the self-image. The loss of the ideal of health can be difficult to live with and causes anxieties, maintained by the uncertainties and mandatory controls related to blood sugar. Norbert Zerah, psychologist, explains in one of his articles: “Whether in a hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic slope, the diabetic fears an imbalance caused by a lack of sugar or its rise. […] This anxiety is likely to cause other behavioral disorders (depression, irritability …). Luckily, having a partner to support you through rocky times can definitely help to create emotional balance. The key here is to communicate openly and regularly.
Sport is recommended for all people with diabetes because it brings a range of health benefits such as improved sensitivity to insulin, whether you take part in sport for competitive reasons, or purely for fun, it is a great way to stay healthy. Furthermore, it is now certain that sport can delay and even prevent the onset of some type II diabetes, but you should keep in mind that for people with diabetes whose pancreas makes almost no insulin (type I diabetes), no sports practice without notice and medical follow-up, as they need to maintain good control of their blood sugar, plan for, monitor, and react to changes in blood sugar levels that can happen because of different levels of exercise intensity and duration.
In this article we present to you 8 tips to make sure you are being safe while exercising.
- People with diabetes who take insulin or insulin secretagogues (sulfonylureas) are at risk for pre-exercise hypoglycemia. If glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dL, 1 hour before exercise/competition, a 15- to 30-g carbohydrate snack should be consumed, and glucose should be rechecked in 30 to 60 minutes. It is wise to have glucose on hand and companions informed of what to do if this happens.
- Avoid violent sports or intensive sports.
- At altitude, pay attention to the use of drugs intended to lower blood glucose when the muscles are at the same time subject to a lack of oxygen (the pressure of the oxygen decreases with altitude).
- We recommend jogging, cycling, running at low speed, noncompetitive tennis, knowing you need to take rest between efforts.
- There are personal adaptations depending on the condition of the arteries, kidneys, nervous system and more or less predictable individual variations in blood glucose levels.
- Individual reactions may differ from one person to another, especially as some people take food and drink for exercise, which varies in composition from one specialty to another.
- After exercise, you must re-hydrate quickly.
- Different sports can affect the body in different ways. For example, brisk walking and continuous jogging will usually lead to a reliable lowering in blood glucose levels. By contrast, sprinting and some upper body activities can initially lead to rises in blood sugar levels, which will come down if the exercise session is long enough. By testing your blood glucose levels around exercise, you can learn how different sports and session lengths affect your blood sugar levels.