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The Importance of Proper Foot Care for Diabetics

Posted by Jeanie Sturgeon on Nov 20, 2019 3:07:22 PM

The term diabetes refers to a family of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). However, diabetes patients suffer from complications beyond just digestion and regulating blood sugar levels. Severe foot problems in particular, are among the most reported risk factors associated with diabetes. As foot problems can lead to infection and ultimately, amputation, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of proper diabetic foot care.

With this article, we're going to address the importance of excellent foot care for diabetics, as well as offer some patient resources.

What Is Diabetic Foot Care? Why Does It Matter?

Per the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, diabetes dramatically increases the risk of foot injury and illnesses because of two specific complications:

  • poor circulation and blood flow
  • diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)

If you're a diabetic patient, proper foot care will include education and awareness, close inspections of your feet, adequate footwear in the form of appropriate socks and shoes, regular hygiene practices, and overall management of your diabetes. A good understanding of pathogens, contamination and infection risks are key.

Stretching feet

It's important to know that diabetic peripheral neuropathy (the deadening of nerves and loss of feeling in their feet) occurs slowly over time. It is not an issue that arises overnight but happens so slowly it may be difficult for patients to realize it's happening. Neuropathy affects three different nerve groups in the feet:

  • Sensory nerves - which allow for sensations or "feeling" in the feet
  • Autonomic nerves - which enable the body to perform automatic functions like sweating
  • Motor nerves - which control foot muscles

It's also critical to be aware of the foot problems caused by poor circulation.

Common Foot Problems for Diabetics

Poor foot circulation and nerve damage will manifest in diabetic patients in the form of:

  • sores and foot infections that do not heal, also known as ulcers
  • bone infections
  • abscesses, which are a collection of pus under the skin
  • skin infections, on the surface of the skin
  • calluses
  • dry skin
  • corns
  • bunions
  • ingrown toenails
  • hammertoes
  • joint pain
  • blisters, which can become ulcers

Patients should know the risk of foot ulcers is high among people with diabetes, and they're very dangerous. According to Endocrineweb.com, roughly 25% of diabetic patients will experience a foot ulcer in their lifetime, and between 9% to 20% of those patients will undergo an amputation because of it.

How to Care for Your Feet If You're Diabetic

Even a small injury or minor blister can be catastrophic to a diabetic patient. Patients should follow these diabetic foot care guidelines:

Inspect your feet every day. Poor circulation and neuropathy lead to a loss of feeling in your feet. Therefore, you may not notice a pebble in your shoe or the beginnings of a blister. Consider using a magnifying glass and good light to check your feet carefully, including the soles and toenail areas. Call your doctor right away if you see a sore, rash, or other irritation.

Per Healthline, some patients may have a hard time seeing the soles of their feet. If that's the case for you, try using a hand mirror.

Wash your feet daily in lukewarm bathwater. Remember to be gentle here. Use a bar of simple soap and a soft washcloth. Avoid using a harsh loofah, which can scratch the skin of your feet and create more problems.

Moisturize, but not between the toes. Fungal infections (like Athlete's Foot) crop up in between toes, so keep that area free of oils and moisturizers. Try oil-free lotion!

Trim toenails carefully. Generally, toenails should be cut straight across, and any sharp edges should be gently filed away. Take care not to cut nails too short. And if you notice an ingrown toenail, contact your doctor rather than attempting to treat it yourself.

Wear socks every day, and change them if needed during the day. This will help keep feet clean, dry, and free of infection.

Shake out your shoes and inspect them daily. It's a good idea to feel around the inside of your shoes with your fingertips, which will help you avoid any foreign materials that cause sores and blisters.

Never go barefoot! Always wear shoes. Even a minor "stubbed toe" can become a dangerous infection. Be sure to wear comfortable, appropriate shoes every day.

See a podiatrist. Even if your foot issues are minimal now, it's a good idea to meet with a podiatrist, build a relationship and give the foot doctor a "baseline" of how your foot is today, compared to how it looks in the future. They can also help determine if you will need special shoes or prescription foot care products now.

Clean feet

A Proper Foot Care Regime

Good habits are the key to proper foot care for people with diabetes. You should develop a daily system in your routine, including daily washing and inspection, weekly nail trimming, and regular checkups. While we recognize that every individual has a unique lifestyle, a proper diabetic foot care routine might include:

  • A morning wash and foot exam
  • Donning fresh socks and inspecting the interior of your shoes before going out for the day
  • An evening wash and foot exam, changing out socks if needed
  • Application of a light moisturizer before bed

Also, be sure not to perform any kind of "bathroom surgery" on your feet to remove corns, calluses, and the like. It's best to leave that to professionals, as an infection could be crippling.

How Our Patient Education Materials Can Help

In addition to our diabetes management publications (known among patients as "The Diabetes Bible"), we offer specific resources for patient education about diabetic foot care. Our resources help patients understand how to care for their feet, how to select proper footwear, how to inspect their feet, and whether they should call a doctor/podiatrist if they see a problem.

Best of all, our educational materials are easy for patients to take home, show loved ones, and keep handy. You can keep these materials in your home, vehicle, and workplace for quick reminders of proper care. They also help explain proper diabetes foot care to your caregivers and loved ones.

Would you like to know more about diabetes care, taking care of your feet, or any other patient education materials we offer? Contact us today! We'd love to walk you through our diabetic patient education materials!

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Topics: Diabetes Education

Your Goal as a Diabetes Patient Educator

Posted by Jeanie Sturgeon on Oct 28, 2019 11:30:00 AM

Type 2 Diabetes

As a patient education professional, you know Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that's affecting more adults, children and family members than ever before. Healthcare is all about helping people, and your role in patient education is a huge part of its success. At HERC Publishing, our goal is to provide you with the best Type 2 diabetes patient education materials in both English and Spanish. In short, we help provide staff with the right tools to prepare patients for lifelong diabetes management and blood sugar awareness.

In our modern age of technology and medical care, robust patient education is more important than ever before for healthcare professionals and patients. In an attempt to self-educate, it's all too easy for diabetes patients to access false information online. While carbohydrate counting and whole grain food choices help with long-term weight loss for those with Type 2 diabetes, there are other lifestyle changes needed to assist people with this disease.You are here to help patients navigate around the inaccurate information that can be found online.

Be sure to educate patients that not everything they read online is fact, or appropriate for that patient's particular goals.

Know Type 2 Diabetes & See it as a Growing Childhood Disease 

With Type 2 diabetes, the patient's body either resists the effects of insulin (the hormone which regulates the movement of sugar into cells) or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels (blood sugar levels) without assistance. Type 2 diabetes was once quite rare in US children. However, it is a growing problem today, according to the American Diabetes Association.

As per the CDC, it affects individuals of all ethnic backgrounds and age brackets in our country, but people of certain races — including African American, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian-American people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • About 30 million people in the US suffer from a form of diabetes, e.g., Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes.
  • At least 90% of them have Type 2 diabetes.
  • We suspect a link to the current childhood obesity epidemic.

We think the Mayo Clinic says it best: "Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, but today more children are diagnosed with the disorder, probably due to the rise in childhood obesity. There's no immediate cure for Type 2 diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy foods and exercising can help manage the disease. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar well, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy."

Some patients may have Type 2 diabetes for years and not know it. Symptoms may appear gradually or not at all. They include:

  • A dramatic increase in thirst
  • Changes and increase in hunger
  • Increased weight
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections
  • Darkened skin in the armpits and neck

Note that the disease may be inherited, but may also develop from habits created within a family regarding poor diet, lack of physical activity, unhealthy lifestyle changes and more risk factors. 

Why Patient Education Matters 

Diabetes patients need access to factual materials. Patients who understand their condition will require fewer doctor visits and experience fewer medical emergencies, according to the CDC. Furthermore, they'll save money, reduce the risk of infection (and secondary infections) and live a healthier life overall.

Proper diabetes management can also help patients avoid, or at least delay, other significant health issues known to stem from the condition like:

Stress is known to have marked effects on patients. With a thorough level of education, patients can learn the importance of stress management and develop personal tools they can use to manage the stress-diabetes connection.  

By educating your Type 2 diabetes patients, you will give them the knowledge they need to master self-care and keep their entire family healthier. By teaching them the symptoms, treatments and lifestyle habits they need to acquire, you allow them to pass diabetes prevention information on to their children and grandchildren. Type 2 diabetes patient education could help lessen  the problem for future generations!

Resources for Diabetes Educators

The first step in proper patient education is to know your audience. Diabetes patients come from all walks of life. Know the general demographics supported at your facility.

Note that Spanish is spoken by at least 37 million people in the US today, according to PEW Research. Spanish is by far the most popular language in our nation, after English. It's best to stock a variety of educational materials appropriate for both Spanish and English speakers.

Age and reading level matter too. Your patient education materials must be understandable. Both the text and the images need to be age-appropriate and easily understood.

Beyond the educational materials you keep on hand, here are more ideas to consider:

  • Find & join a diabetes education program in your area. 
  • Provide group learning opportunities for diabetes patients in a classroom or an online forum.
  • Create social media groups for your patients. Post accurate information for them to learn and communicate with each other about diabetes care.
  • Check out The Ultimate Guide to Diabetes Education Material Selection to learn how to select the best educational materials for your staff and patients.
  • Encourage patients to connect with a professional dietitian or nutrition specialist to promote healthy eating.
  • Offer access to physical activity opportunities. Consider simple activities like group walks or basic yoga classes.
  • Encourage a "buddy" system for workouts and diet management. These challenges can be easier to tackle with a friend.

The key takeaway here is that Type 2 diabetes management will be a lifelong process for your patients. Encourage them to find quality resources and activities outside of the hospital or doctor's office.

Request a Diabetes Sample Kit Today

HERC Publishing is recognized as one of the nation's top providers of patient education products. Our mission is to help you provide health professionals and diabetes patients with the information necessary to make healthier choices and to become active participants in their diabetes management

We're proud to say that our publications have been called "the diabetes bible" by patients. Our diabetes education booklets and tearpads cover several topics including:

  • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Diabetes Self-Management
  • Pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes
  • Monitoring blood sugar
  • Healthy meal planning
  • Physical activity guidelines
  • Healthy snack ideas
  • Weight loss
  • Portion control
  • Oral & Injectable medications
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Ketoacidosis
  • Stress Management & Mental Health
  • Individual diabetes management goals for patients

Beyond educating patients and their families about the management of diabetes and blood sugar, our materials are meant to be kept and referenced often. Our booklets are sturdy, easily transported and easily understood. By keeping a reliable resource at hand, patients are better equipped to make the choices that will keep them out of the doctor's office or emergency room. Contact us today to learn more about Type 2 diabetes patient education.  

Topics: Diabetes Education, Patient Education Materials

The Ultimate Guide To Cardiology Patient Education Material

Posted by Jeanie Sturgeon on May 31, 2019 10:56:00 AM

The more knowledge and better education patients have, the better they understand their disease and learn how to care for themselves. Cardiovascular disease can be overwhelming and there are many details to manage for long-term wellness. Patients need to understand what normal and abnormal heart functions are and what to do when their symptoms flare up. They must understand guidelines for taking medications safely and numerous dietary strategies. All these elements combine to make their lives better or worse depending on how they care for themselves.

What is Heart Disease?

The Mayo Clinic explains heart disease as a range of conditions that affect your heart. There are several categories along the heart disease continuum some which include, blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), and heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects) among others.

Remember, the term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with the term "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart's muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.

There can be traumatic results from a lack of heart disease management like heart failure, heart attack, atrial fibrillation and more, but much of this can be prevented or treated with heart health best practices and cardiac rehabilitation.

Good Cardiology Patient Education Materials Can Help Prevent Serious Health Complications

Anyone with coronary artery disease or heart disease or who have a family history of heart problems can benefit from our materials. People with these issues need to let their friends and family members know they are trying to make healthy lifestyle changes so their family needs to be aware that these changes are important to them. Cardiology educators (mainly nurses and healthcare professionals) will purchase these materials for their offices and use them when teaching patients how to care for themselves after they leave the office or hospital.

What complications can arise from a lack of education?

The following risk factors are common with those who have cardiac disease:

  • Age: Men at 45, women at 55 (or after menopause)
  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease
  • Family history: People inherit their parent’s risk of disease just like they do other genetics like height or hair color.
  • Tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • High blood sugar or diabetes
  • Stress

5 Things The Best Cardiology Education Materials Have

In general, patient-facing medical information can be difficult to use and understand. This is a serious issue. One of the biggest mistakes an educator can make is selecting materials that patients can’t use. Here are the biggest issues that we’ve seen in cardiac education materials:

  • Materials are too hard to comprehend
  • The graphics and illustrations in the materials are unclearHERC-Catalog-SM
  • There is no practical advice or tips regarding lifestyle changes for patients
  • Language needs for patients are not considered
  • We strongly recommend picking materials that have the following five qualities:

Easy to Read.

If the materials you select are hard to understand, patients will become discouraged in learning about their heart health and general self-care. It’s critical that you select materials that use accessible language. Patient educators will often choose material that is inexpensive (due to budget constraints) but end up with a resource that is difficult to understand, especially for younger patients with cardiac issues.

Clear Graphics and Visuals.

Patients must know things such as specific medications, cardiac ablation, pacemaker implantation, and other treatments that lead to healthy lifestyle changes. Visuals help break down the complexities of a medical condition into more easily understandable content. Poor visuals in your education materials could prevent the learning required for a healthier lifestyle. Be sure to prioritize clear graphics when choosing cardiac materials.herc_featured_banner1

Certified and Updated Content.

Cardiac care changes often. As new medications are developed and methods of self-care are updated, the American Heart Association (AHA) will update their standards of care. Be sure to buy the most current version of your materials as they are often updated.

Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC) is the most common certification that the educators have but as publishers we utilize the services of:

  • Cardiac Rehab Coordinators
  • Cardiac nurses
  • Hospital Pharmacies
  • Cardiologists
  • Dieticians
  • Typically, they are certified in Cardiovascular Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC).
  • American Heart Association

Multiple Language Options.

A heart condition can happen to anyone. As a result, language options are important so that educators can teach people who speak different languages.

How To Get The Most Out Of The Evaluation Process

Once you have decided that you’re interested in a particular cardiac educational resource, it’s critical that you test the material before making a purchase. Never buy a medical education resource sight unseen. Here are three steps you can follow to get the most of your resource evaluation and decision-making process:

1. Request a sample kit.

Always ask for a sample of the cardiology education materials that you’re considering. This will allow you to make sure that the information is up to date, and get a better look at how the materials meet the standards of the 5 elements we’ve listed above.

Click here to request a free sample kit from HERC Publishing

2. Share the sample with your colleagues.

Involving other members of your group or organization in the evaluation process will help you get a better feel for the viability of the educational materials. They may catch issues or provide insight that allows you to make the best decision for your patients.

3. Consider pricing and availability.

The temptation educators face is choosing the cheaper materials in response to the prevalence of cardiac patients in the United States (according to the CDC about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths with about 735,000 Americans who have a heart attack every year.) It’s important to seriously consider the implications and problems that may arise from cheaper patient education materials. Additionally, we strongly advise that you determine the availability of these materials as the number of patients with heart disease increases.

Assess the vendor’s ability to partner with your organization.

Partnership ensures that your money is well spent and your materials meet the needs of your patients and coworkers. Make sure that the vendor you’re considering is responsive, attentive, and willing to answer your questions.

When patients have current cardiology information that is easy to understand, the result is better self-care, and a healthier, happier life.

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Topics: Patient Education Materials, cardiac patient education, Heart Disease

The Ultimate Guide To Diabetes Education Material Selection

Posted by Jeanie Sturgeon on May 13, 2019 11:04:15 AM

When it comes to selecting diabetes education materials, the research and evaluation process can feel intimidating. Patient education is more important than ever, but determining the right evaluation criteria for educational resources can stump even the most seasoned diabetes educators.

Diabetes impacts every part of a person’s life. Living with diabetes means navigating a new normal for healthcare: healthy eating and meal planning, regular doctor visits, self-management of medication, and exercise.

By giving patients a more robust education, you’ll empower them to make better lifestyle decisions and gain greater insight into their disease. Ultimately, this will lead to a healthier, happier life for the patient and deeper trust between the patient and their health care professional.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through exactly what to look for when selecting diabetes education materials, and highlight some of the common mistakes that searchers make when selecting a resource.

Understanding The Two Types of Diabetes.

As you consider any diabetes education materials, it’s essential to remember that there are two types of diabetes, and specific educational materials to reflect this difference.

Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 (sometimes called juvenile diabetes because it is typically diagnosed in children) is a condition where the patient's pancreas stops producing insulin. This requires the patient to inject insulin into their body via syringes or a pump. In order to test their blood glucose, patients must prick their fingers throughout the day to check their glucose level so that they know how much insulin to give themselves. There are also Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) that can be placed under the skin to give readings throughout the day for Type 1 patients.

Type 1 patients are about 5% of all people with diabetes. It is essential that patients with Type 1 coordinate the insulin in their body with their activity because both insulin and activity will result in low blood sugar. If a person’s blood sugars get too low, they can go into a state of hypoglycemia, which can lead to unconsciousness, seizures, and even death.

Type 2 Diabetes. Typically diagnosed in adults and sometimes even children, Type 2 diabetes means that the patient is still producing insulin, but their body cannot use it effectively.This can occur due to a number of issues, but often being overweight is an indicator. Patients take oral medications to regulate their body’s glucose and typically only test their blood once a day. Type 2 diabetes makes up about 95% of all people with diabetes.

For more information on these two types of diabetes, we recommend reading more at Diatribe, a website with tons of helpful information for those wanting to learn and stay up to date on diabetes.

Good Diabetes Education Materials Can Help Prevent Serious Health Complications

By prioritizing the quality of patient education materials, you’re actually prioritizing the quality of your patient’s lives. Poor educational materials disadvantage patients because they are not adequately equipped to practice effective diabetes management.

Poor diabetes management can lead to severe health complications such as kidney disease/failure.It can often lead to dialysis, eye damage (which can result in blindness), or even increase the risk for heart disease or stroke.

Quality diabetes education can help people manage their weight, improve blood sugar levels, and improve heart health. These things allow for a better quality of life for patients and the people around them.

5 Things The Best Diabetes Education Materials Have

In general, patient-facing medical information can be difficult to use and understand. This is a serious issue. One of the biggest mistakes a diabetes educator can make is selecting material that patients can’t use. Here are the biggest issues that we’ve seen in diabetes education materials:

  • Materials are too hard to comprehend
  • The graphics and illustrations in the materials are unclear
  • There is no practical advice or tips regarding lifestyle changes for patients
  • Language needs for patients are not considered

We strongly recommend picking materials that have the following five qualities:

Easy to Read.

If the materials you select are hard to understand, patients will become discouraged in learning about their self-care. It’s critical that you select materials that use accessible language. Diabetes educators will often choose material that is inexpensive (due to budget constraints) but end up with a resource that is difficult to understand, especially for younger patients with Type 1 diabetes.

Clear Graphics and Visuals.

Patients must know things such as exactly how to inject insulin, and poor visuals in your education materials could prevent their success. Be sure to prioritize clear graphics when choosing diabetes materials.

Lifestyle Tips and Practical Advice.

Managing food choices and physical activity is a large part of life with diabetes. Materials with lots of practical tips on what to eat, how to exercise, and general lifestyle advice will go a long way in empowering patients how to practice better self-care.

Certified and Updated Content.

Diabetes care changes often. As new medications are developed and methods of self-care are updated, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) will update their standards of care. Be sure to buy the most current version of your materials as they are often updated.

Multiple Language Options.

Diabetes can happen to anyone. As a result, language options are important so that educators can teach people who speak different languages. Rates of diagnosed diabetes are higher among American Indians/Alaska Natives (15.1 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (12.7 percent), and Hispanics (12.1 percent), compared to Asians (8.0 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (7.4 percent).

HERC offers up to date diabetes education materials in Spanish. Click here or the image below to request a free sample kit.

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How To Get The Most Out Of The Evaluation Process

Once you have decided that you’re interested in a particular diabetes educational resource, it’s critical that you test the material before making a purchase. Never buy a medical education resource sight unseen. Here are three steps you can follow to get the most of your resource evaluation process:

1. Request a sample kit.

Always ask for a sample of the diabetes materials that you’re considering. This will allow you to make sure that the information is up to date, and get a better look at how the materials meet the standards of the 5 elements we’ve listed above.

2. Take the sample to your colleagues.

Involving other members of your group or organization in the evaluation process will help you get a better feel for the viability of the educational materials. They may catch issues or provide insight that allows you to make the best decision for your patients.

3. Consider pricing and availability.

The temptation educators face is choosing the cheaper materials in response to the prevalence of diabetes patients in the United States (according to the CDC as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population have diabetes. Another 84.1 million have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to Type 2 diabetes within five years.) It’s important to seriously consider the implications and problems that may arise from cheaper diabetes education materials. Additionally, we strongly advise that you determine the availability of these materials as the number of diabetic patients increases.

Assess the vendor’s ability to partner with your organization.

Partnership ensures that your money is well spent and your materials meet the needs of your patients and coworkers. Make sure that the vendor you’re considering is responsive, attentive, and willing to answer your questions.

When patients have current diabetes information that is easy to understand, the result is better self-care, and a healthier, happier life.

Are you currently exploring new diabetes education materials? Click here to request a sample from HERC today.  

Topics: Diabetes Education, Patient Education Materials

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