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Diabetes 9 to 5: Tips to Help You Manage Your Diabetes at Work

Controlling symptoms is critical to controlling your diabetes. Here's how experts say you can do the job while on the job.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by John A. Seibel, MD

When television's perennially popular Mary Richards walked into WJM's Minneapolis newsroom in 1970, she did more than show the world a single girl could "make it on her own." The award-winning actress who portrayed her -- Mary Tyler Moore -- also showed us diabetes and a career could coexist.

Moore was diagnosed with adult-onset type 1 diabetes in the 1960s, several years before her Emmy-winning show began. But that didn't stop Moore from pursuing her career or turning the world on with a smile.

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Today, millions of people afflicted with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are following in Moore's footsteps. They're refusing to let diabetes get in the way of their careers.

"I made a decision early in my life to find a career where diabetes and success could coexist," says Paul Strumph, MD. Strumph is chief medical officer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He also has type 1 diabetes. "I don't wear it like a badge," he says. "But clearly my career has not suffered because of my diabetes."

The same is true for San Diego resident Aaron Synder. Synder was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he was 20. Today, at age 30, he's a successful trader. "I have a job that requires me to be at work before 5:30 a.m., and I sometimes stay until 5:30 p.m.," Synder says. "I'm continuously surrounded by free candy, sodas, and chips on a daily basis. But I still manage to keep my blood sugar under control and not let my illness interfere with my job." In addition to his job, Synder, is a patient counselor and is also writing a book to help other people with diabetes gain control of their life and career.

It isn't always easy to do what Synder and Strumph do. Both agree that having diabetes does present some workday challenges. But, says endocrinologist Lauren Golden, MD, knowledge is the key that can turn obstacles into opportunities.

"The more you know about your diabetes," Golden says, "and the more you know about controlling your blood sugars, the better off you'll be." Golden is a diabetes specialist at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. She tells WebMD that the more you know, the better prepared you will be to deal with any work situations that arise, "including explaining your condition to others if you need to."

To help you put your best work-foot forward, WebMD asked a panel of patients and experts for tips and advice about controlling diabetes in the work place. What they said can help you gain control not just of diabetes, but of your occupation as well.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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