The Impact of Diabetes in the Latino Community

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Diabetes is a serious issue in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population is afflicted with the condition. The disease has a particularly harsh impact on communities of color, including Latinos.

Strains on Families

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Family dynamics are exceptionally important in Latin culture. No matter what the situation, family members will band together to face adversity. While this is an admirable quality, it can lead to substantial strain when one or more individuals in a family are diagnosed with diabetes. This disease often takes a significant toll on finances, and many people with this condition must deal with high medical expenses and lost work time. When other members of the family must bear the brunt of these financial burdens, relationships can become strained. In addition, the stress of witnessing a loved one struggle with a serious—and potentially fatal—medical condition often wreaks havoc on relatives’ mental health. All of these issues can weigh heavily on the Latino family structure.

Language Barriers to Care

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Medical environments can be scary. This is especially true when patients are facing serious diagnoses, such as diabetes. Many people in such situations have difficulty understanding what is happening around them and to them. This problem is exacerbated when there is a language barrier between Spanish-speaking patients and English-speaking healthcare providers. These issues can be alleviated with the help of Spanish-speaking physicians and translators, but unfortunately these are not always available.

Cultural Barriers to Care

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Cultural differences may also lead to barriers to care. Miscommunication can easily arise when physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers do not understand the cultures of their Latino patients. Some healthcare facilities have begun to address this issue by implementing training courses for staff on the intricacies of Hispanic culture. In addition, a growing number of hospitals and clinics have initiated patient education efforts that have been adapted for Spanish-speaking audiences. These types of programs can do a lot to alleviate the effect of cultural barriers in medical facilities.

Causes – Diet and Exercise

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There are a number of causes of diabetes. In many cases, the condition could be prevented through healthy diet and regular exercise. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, however, can prove challenging for some Hispanic communities, particularly those who are working class. Many Latinos work exceptionally long hours, often at multiple jobs. The time and energy required to maintain a good diet and exercise regimen is often very difficult for such individuals. This is one of the primary underlying reasons that diabetes has had such a big impact on the Latino community.

Difficulties of Dietary Changes

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In tight-knit Latino populations, food is an important part of engaging with the community. People often gather together with friends, family and church members to have social get-togethers. At these events, food is usually abundant and everyone is expected to partake. When diabetics are forced to refrain from eating with their friends and relatives, it can have a substantial negative effect on their social connections. The emotional impact of this can be severe.

Issues for Low-Income Families

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Many Hispanics in the U.S. are struggling to keep themselves afloat financially. These individuals and their families exist in a delicate balance, often surviving from paycheck to paycheck. In some cases, access to health care facilities may also be limited. Hispanics from this income bracket are more susceptible to developing diabetes because they may not have the knowledge or financial resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In order to overcome such difficulties, extra support from the medical community is often required.

High Fatality Rates

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Hispanics are not only more prone to developing diabetes, but they are also more likely to die from the condition. The fatality rate for Latinos with the disease is about 1.5 times higher than it is for non-Hispanic whites. This indicates that diabetes is a significant problem in the Hispanic community. As such, it should be taken very seriously.

Diabetes is a huge issue for the entire country. There are, however, some communities that are hit harder by this condition than others. Due to language/cultural barriers and poverty issues, Hispanics in the United States are much more susceptible to the disease than other populations. Fortunately, medical support for Latino communities is starting to become more prevalent. If someone you care about is suffering from diabetes, you may find it beneficial to keep an eye out for these programs.