It can be uncomfortable for some people to reveal to others that they have diabetes, whether it is to friends, classmates or colleagues.

Being diagnosed with diabetes is life-changing and it can take a while to adapt emotionally without worrying about the reactions of others.

Some people are perfectly fine with answering questions about their diabetes, but others may not be so forthcoming, which is particularly common among school children.

However, certain people must be informed of your diabetes as a matter of importance. We examine the people you should tell and some of the ways it can be done.

Using your medical ID

People with diabetes should carry medical identification if they are at risk of short-term complications that can come from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Identification can be in the form of jewellery, wallet cards or clothing. It can also act as a straightforward way of initiating a conversation about your diabetes.

Not only can medical ID reveal your diabetes to new people, it can serve to save your life in the event of an emergency and paramedics are trying to ascertain what is wrong with you.

Medicating in front of people

Some may choose to medicate in front of new people, either by testing blood or injecting, rather than starting a conversation about their diabetes.

When people ask what you are doing, inform them that you have diabetes and you need to medicate. Allowing people to see how you manage your diabetes can be easier than explaining it.

This approach will not be preferred by people who are more private with their diabetes, but if you have no issue with medicating in front of others, it can be a simple way of letting people know.

Telling your family you have diabetes

Your family will need to know about your diabetes to understand changes you make across diet, medication and exercise.

Teaching your family what to do in the event of emergency will enable them to react correctly to any serious situations.

This goes for children as well, who like adults, should know how to contact the emergency services.

Children with diabetes

For many children with diabetes, it can take time to accept their condition and share it with others.

Parents should consider whether their child wants their school classmates to know about their diabetes, and this should be up to the child. Telling teachers is important to ensure their safety, however.

If the child is ready to discuss their diabetes with others, prepare them for certain reactions that people can have upon being told. Many children will not know much about diabetes, so ensuring your child is well educated on their diabetes will allow them to pass this on to others.

For more information, see Diabetes and Parenting.

Telling people at university that you have diabetes

Similarly to starting school, telling people you have diabetes isn’t exactly the first conversation you want to have with anyone.

However, it is a good idea to let your hall or dormitory warden know that you have diabetes, and you should explain to your flat mates or neighbours about any medication, such as insulin, that needs to be stored in a communal fridge.

Your lecturers will also appreciate being told in case you have a hypo and need to go outside to medicate a hypo.

Informing work of your diabetes

It can be important to let your employer, and some close working colleagues know about your diabetes.

This is especially vital if you are susceptible to hypos and your job involves driving or operating potentially dangerous machinery.

Informing your employer also allows them to act with knowledge of your condition if an emergency transpires.

Some people may feel hesistant to disclose their diabetes in the fear that it could negatively influence their career progression. However, if your employer is made aware then they will need to follow Disability Rights Laws and not discriminate against you.

Usually, people are very understanding of medical conditions once they are informed.

Discuss diabetes with your partner

Knowing how to broach your diabetes with your partner can be tricky, but most significant others are accepting and will often help you to manage your condition.

Your partner should know about your diabetes before having sex, which can result in hypos if you are on medication such as insulin, sulfonylureas or glinides.

Telling your partner about your daily routine and what to do in the event of an emergency, such as how to administer glucagon for severe hypoglycemia, will be useful.

For more information see Dating and Diabetes (yet to be uploaded)

Eating at someone’s house

If you have any particular dietary restrictions, it could be worth passing this information on to your host if you need to avoid certain foods.

You may prefer to eat what you are given, which should not present an issue providing you adjust your diabetes management to compensate for any additional carbohydrate and sugar consumption.

Driving with diabetes

All states have different licensing laws about medical conditions such as diabetes and you should research your state’s policy when learning to drive.

When not to tell people you have diabetes

In some situations, you may not feel the need to explain your diabetes, and you have the right to be as private as you would like.

It is up to the individual with diabetes to decide how and when they tell people of their condition in situations that is not necessitated.