The NIH Guidelines for Diabetes

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a US governmental agency with the broad mandate of dispensing billions of dollars in federal funds for research programs covering all aspects of human health.

The knowledge gleaned from this and other research is then coordinated by the NIH so that they can determine federal recommendations and policies on health-related topics.

The NIH has more than two dozen sub-agencies, each specializing in specific aspects of health. For instance, there is the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

The NIDDK has a set of six guidelines that are intended to address the management of the diabetes epidemic.

1. Identify People with Undiagnosed Diabetes

The prevention of the myriad complications of diabetes begins with those who are not yet clinically diabetic, but who are well on their way to that diagnosis. Education is of primary importance, to gain the compliance of the patient in taking action to reverse the direction of diabetes. This is effective when undertaken aggressively and early in the disease process.

2. Manage Pre-Diabetes to Prevent the Onset of Diabetes

By aggressively managing pre-diabetes, with changes in diet and exercise and the addition of certain medications, the progression towards full-blown diabetes can be interrupted, and the patient might ultimately avoid the diagnosis.

3. Provide Ongoing Education and Support for Those with Diabetes

An educated and motivated patient is more likely to comply with the recommendations of their doctor and make those changes necessary to prevent the complications of diabetes. Diabetic Self-Management Education (DSME) empowers the patient to act in their own best interest.

4. Provide Comprehensive Patient-Centric Care

Those patients who can easily access information and support from their medical providers are more likely to comply with medical directives and, therefore, less likely to experience complications. It is also necessary to coordinate treatment of all diseases and disorders from which the patient suffers, because of the many comorbidities to diabetes.

5. Consider the Needs of Special Populations

Children, women who might become pregnant, seniors, members of high-risk racial and ethnic groups: each of these groups presents a unique challenge to the treatment of diabetes. Whether it is the sudden manifestation of type 1 diabetes in a young child or the inability of a senior to exercise enough to prevent complications, each group needs an approach to diabetes prevention and treatment that is tailored to them.

6. Encourage Regular Assessments to Monitor Treatment Effectiveness

Without regular and rigorous monitoring by medical staff, there is no way of knowing the effectiveness of treatments given, or to uncover complications soon enough to address without causing further injury.

Source and image credit: National Institutes of Health

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