Health inequalities have been highlighted during the pandemic, and Hispanic and Latino communities have been particularly affected by COVID-19, in part due to higher cases of chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
According to the CDC, more than half of Hispanics and Latin Americans are likely to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime and develop it at a younger age than their white neighbors. Like COVID-19, they are also more likely to develop serious complications such as kidney failure or blindness.
To avoid these and other complications, patients must learn to manage their blood sugar and make healthier choices every day – eat healthy foods, be physically active, take prescribed medications, and have regular check-ups. These changes can be difficult to manage.
“A diagnosis of diabetes can be overwhelming for anyone, but coupled with language barriers and cultural differences, it can quickly spiral out of control,” said Christina Schmidt, diabetes educator at Advocate Sherman Hospital and local certified school nurse. . “I know having a supplier that you can relate to and who lives in your community is critical to success. “
These additional barriers may mean that some patients are less likely to understand treatment instructions and make lifestyle changes. But, the benefits of overcoming them can mean better health for the whole family.
Schmidt knows that one of his patients’ biggest concerns is being able to prepare the food they love while managing their disease. That’s why she is dedicated to offering tips on how to cook their favorite foods in a healthier way, which not only helps them manage their blood sugar better, but can also help the rest of the family make choices. healthier food.
Hispanic and Latino children and adolescents are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as are their parents. By helping them learn healthier habits earlier in life, Schmidt hopes his programs can lower their risk of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases throughout their lives.
“Because I am of Mexican descent, I am able to provide the practical care my patients need in a language they understand,” Schmidt continued.
In addition to the healthy recipes, Schmidt’s diabetes education programs focus on creating a community to support each participant in their new way of life. For example, she created a specific group for women with gestational diabetes and says, “The pregnant women who come to my class want to get together, share recipes and create camaraderie” through their shared diagnosis and experience.
As for his advice, Schmidt encourages everyone to educate themselves. Knowing the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes is a first step. These include having to urinate a lot, blurred vision, feeling very thirsty or hungry, losing weight without trying, having numb or tingling hands or feet, feeling very tired, dry skin, and sores that heal slowly. Any of these symptoms are cause for concern and Schmidt recommends having your blood sugar tested. You can also understand your risk for diabetes by taking our short health risk assessment or speaking with your doctor.
“With the right approach,” Schmidt concluded, “We can help people manage disease and improve their overall health. We can reverse these troubling trends by providing culturally appropriate care.
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