Diabetes mellitus Type 2 is a common disease in our community. The number of our community members with Types 2 diabetes is increasing at alarming rate. In Kenya, the prevalence in certain areas is 8%. In India, the highest prevalence of diabetes mellitus is in Gujrat where it is at 20%.
Diabetes is chronic disease when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use insulin it produces effectively. As a result of this, the blood sugar is elevated. Diabetes is now a major underlying cause of heart diseases and kidney failure.
Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how high the blood sugar is . Some people may not have any symptoms.
Some of the signs and symptoms are:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and other infections.
RISK FACTORS IN OUR COMMUNITY
- Weight. Obesity or being overweight is a major risk factor.
- Sedentary life style. The sedentary life style is a major risk factor. Lack of physical activity leads weight gain. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Family history. Your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Age. Your risk increases as you get older. This may be because you tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as you age. But type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children, adolescents and younger adults.
Diabetes can cause the following complications:
- Heart Disease: Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack. Heart diseases are now the commonest cause of death in the world.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Diabetes causes damage to nerves especially nerves of the legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. When left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy). Diabetes can damage the kidneys and severe damage irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Diabetes is now the commonest cause of kidney failure.
- Eye damage (retinopathy). Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness.
- Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections, which often heal poorly. These infections may ultimately require toe, foot or leg amputation.
Everyone over the age of 45 years should be screened for diabetes by measuring blood sugar biannually. Those at high risk should be screened more frequently.
Healthy Lifestyle: This is the most neglected aspect in prevention and treatment of diabetes.
- Eat healthy foods. Choose foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to prevent boredom. Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas and fruit juices. The fruit juices are often labeled “Contain no artificial sugars”. However, they contain other sugars which are equally harmful.
- Get more physical activity. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity on most days of the week, or at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week.
- Lose excess weight. If you are overweight, losing even 7% of your body weight — for example, 14 pounds (6.4 kilograms) if you weigh 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms) — can reduce the risk of diabetes.
To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent
changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering
the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and
Treatment of diabetes is to lead a healthy lifestyle and medications. Newer drugs have now come into the market which can reduce complications of diabetes. Please consult your doctor.
CHB – YOUR HEALTH IS OUR PRIORITY
CENTRAL HEALTH BOARD OF THE AFRICA FEDERATION
8th March 2021