November is celebrated as the month of awareness for diabetes. The global diabetes community that came together to support the United Nations diabetes resolution made use of blue coloured circle symbol for the diabetes awareness.
Blue colour denotes the sky that cover all nations irrespective of any culture, geographical, economical differences and it also symbolises the color of United Nations flag. The circle shape signifies unity among people to fight against diabetes and create awareness, to remain together to bring a difference globally.
Let’s have an insight on diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that impairs carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism in the body.
When we eat food, the food is broken down into glucose and nutrients and is absorbed in the blood. The hormone “insulin” that is produced by the pancreas then makes sure the glucose is absorbed from the blood into our cells and used as energy. If you have insulin resistance, the cells of your body do not recognise insulin, hence the glucose is not adequately absorbed by the cells. As a result, glucose level in the blood keeps rising and you feel lethargic since the cells do not have the energy they need.
It’s a disease which is directly responsible for 1.5 million deaths in a year and associated with another 2.2 million deaths in some form. A disease which is about to become the 7th leading cause of death.
TYPES OF DIABETES
There are three major types of Diabetes that can be seen in the population. These are-
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
TYPE 1 DIABETES
In type 1, the formation of insulin is reduced in the body or the insulin ceases to form.
TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes is due to “insulin resistance”.
It is the form that occurs in pregnancy when the hormones of pregnancy overwhelm the body’s insulin so that the blood glucose rises. It can cause problems with the growing fetus who tends to grow large and have a difficult delivery. Gestational diabetes can also become type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Excessive thirst.
- Excessive hunger or increased appetite.
- Unexplained weakness and loss of weight.
- Poor lifestyle including unbalanced diet (diet high in fats and carbohydrates).
- Lack of physical activity.
- Obesity or being overweight.
- Genetic factors.
If the blood glucose is allowed to remain high, usually greater than 180 mg/dl over ten years or more, the patient with any form of diabetes may develop one or all of the following complications:
- HEART DISEASE: 2 out of 3 diabetic patients die from heart attacks. Over time, blood sugar can harm the blood vessels and nerves of the heart. This also increases the risk of heart attack.
- DAMAGE TO THE KIDNEY: Damage to kidneys is a common complication of diabetes. There are small blood vessels in our kidneys, which work to clean the blood. Chronically high blood sugar damages these blood vessels and gradually the kidney function is impacted.
- EYE DAMAGE: Long-term uncontrolled diabetes can damage the eyes and blood vessels of the eyes leading to a disease. This can also become the cause of blindness if not managed in time.
- NEUROPATHY OR NERVE DAMAGE: If the diabetes is not kept in control, it gradually affects the nerves in every part of the body. The symptoms of this nerve damage usually surface as numbness or tingling in limbs (hands and feet).
HOW TO MANAGE:
- MONITORING OF BLOOD GLUCOSE: Check your glucose levels at least once every 6 months. If you are on insulin, you will need to check your blood glucose levels before meals at home regularly to adjust your insulin dosage.
- DIET FOR DIABETIC PATIENTS: It is important you eat low-glycemic foods and spread the meals throughout the day. Ensure high-fiber intake, which means eating loads of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- EXERCISE FOR DIABETIC PATIENTS: Go for a minimum exercise of 30 minutes daily.
- STAY AWAY FROM STRESS: Stress is not good for diabetic patients. Any kind of stress can increase the blood pressure of diabetic patients.
DIABETES AND CORONAVIRUS
People with diabetes are more susceptible to serious complications such as coronavirus.
Here are a few reasons why diabetics are highly susceptible to Corona virus;
WEAKENED IMMUNITY: Unstable blood sugar can weaken the body’s immune system and make it more vulnerable to the virus.
OTHER CHRONIC DISEASES: Diabetes is a condition that affects every organ of the body. Many diabetic patients also suffer from high blood pressure, cholesterol and thyroid. This can further weaken the immune system.
DIABETIC KETOACIDOSIS: This is a very serious side-effect of the coronavirus and leads to a build up of lethal amounts of ketones in the bloodstream.
If someone has diabetes, they should take all the necessary safety precautions to prevent the disease.
It is high time that people realize the severity of diabetes and they need to educate themselves about it so that they can prevent it or control it if they are suffering from diabetes already.