By Avni Kaul
Over 425 million people are currently living with diabetes. 1 in 2 people currently living with diabetes is undiagnosed. In two decades, India will be home to 120 million diabetics. If there’s any disease every single Indian needs to guard against, it’s diabetes. Characterised by an escalated blood sugar level, this non-communicable disease (NCD) impacts the young, middle-aged and elderly with a vengeance, reducing their productivity and life-span. Early detection, treatment and the cultivation of a healthy lifestyle are measures recommended to ward off the dire consequences.
In 2018, World Diabetes Day falls on Wednesday 14th November. The purpose of this one day is to raise awareness of a condition that millions of people all around the world live with every day. Diabetes if left untreated can lead to several short-term and long-term illnesses.
Essentially, diabetes is about the body’s ability (or lack of it) to produce the required amount of a hormone called insulin to control glucose levels in the blood. There are broadly two types of diabetes: Type 1 requires daily administration of artificial insulin by means of injection or insulin pump. Type 2 is more generally managed by a combination of dietary control and medication in the form of tablets. A diet high in processed and fatty foods rather than fresh, wholesome foods, in combination with reduced physical activity, has increased the average risk of diabetes.
Diabetes Could Start From Childhood
Defects in insulin secretion or insulin action or both cause Diabetes Mellitus and this condition is increasing worldwide. It is called Type 1 Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes when it affects children between the age of 0-14 years.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus occurs in children, adolescents or young adults when their insulin producing cells in their pancreas are destroyed. The insufficient insulin then causes glucose or sugar to get into the bloodstream instead of being used as energy thereby disbalancing the sugar level.
The reason for this condition to occur is not known exactly. However, autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system misbehaves and destroys the healthy cells in the pancreas, is one of the guilty parties. Heredity also plays an important part when it comes to the occurrence of autoimmune diseases.
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Symptoms To Watch Out For
Excessive thirst, increased appetite, blurring of vision, weight loss and exhaustion are some of the symptoms which should be taken very seriously for they may be occurring because of Diabetes Mellitus.
Diagnosis can be made by considering the information given by the patient or an adult looking after him/her. Urine dipsticks, blood glucose test strips, fasting blood sugar, oral glucose tolerance test, random blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c(Hb1C) are some of the tests that can be done to confirm the diagnosis.
It is important for the patient to keep his/her blood sugar level under control. It can be done by monitoring the blood glucose and taking insulin, if necessary. The disease can be managed by making few lifestyle changes like making healthy food choices and maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercises.
The concentration of blood glucose level should be regularly monitored too so that the fluctuation can be managed to prevent complications.
Deep, rapid breathing, dry skin and mouth, flushed face, fruity breath odour, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain are some of the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which may be fatal and which develops due to the lack of insulin.
Excessive hunger, headache, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, tremors, and weakness are symptoms of hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar which may occur when the dose of insulin, food intake and exercise do not match each other. A glass of sweet beverage or a couple of sweet biscuits should be given immediately to the person experiencing these symptoms.
If diabetes is not controlled in the initial stages then it may result in a host of complications like foot ulcers and their delayed healing, nerve damage in the legs and feet, problems in the eye and kidney failure. It is, therefore, important to immediately contact a qualified doctor, who besides prescribing the medication will also guide the patient and the caregiver into making lifestyle changes so that you can lead a normal enough life.
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How To Avoid Diabetes
- Have a regular, protein-rich, wholesome breakfast.
- Eat small meals at frequent intervals, to avoid hunger pangs and consequent unhealthy snacking.
- Have fruit and nuts handy for healthy snacking.
- Drink water all through the day.
- When eating out, choose healthier foods: whole wheat bread with veggies, instead of food made of white flour and fat; steamed, not fried; coconut water, buttermilk, jaljeera or nimbu pani, instead of sweetened aerated drinks
- Incorporate regular physical activities into the daily routine: take stairs instead of lifts; park car a block away and walk the remaining distance; office or table-chair exercises are also a great way to stay active; walk around the office during breaks and lunch hour.
DISCLAIMER: While we have taken steps to check the accuracy of information & practices shared here; it is not a replacement for a doctor’s opinion. it is important to first always check with your own doctor before trying any medication, practice or suggestion from this site.