World Diabetes Day: Educate today to protect tomorrow

The disease demands regular blood sugar monitoring and following a healthy lifestyle



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By Web Desk

Published: Thu 17 Nov 2022, 7:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Nov 2022, 8:28 PM

One in five people in the UAE suffer from diabetes, and the number is expected to double by 2040. The theme of this year's World Diabetes Day, which was marked on November 14, was education.

While the focus this year will be on diabetes care, awareness is vital. Here's a guide that will give people a better understanding about the disease, and the treatment methods.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that elevates blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that carries sugar from the blood into your cells where it can be utilised or stored as fuel. When you have diabetes, your body either produces insufficient insulin or is unable to utilise it effectively.

If high blood sugar levels are left untreated, it can affect your nervous system, eyes, kidneys, and other organs. As per the International Diabetes Federation, 537 million adults (1 in 10) were living with diabetes in 2021. This number is expected rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.

Types of diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreatic cells producing insulin are destroyed. It is uncertain what triggers this attack. There might be genetic as well as environmental factors.
  • Type 2 diabetes begins as insulin resistance. This indicates that your body is not able to utilise insulin effectively. This causes your pancreas to generate more insulin until it is unable to keep up with demand. Insulin production declines, resulting in excessive blood sugar.
  • Gestational diabetes is defined as elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Diabetes of this kind is caused by insulin-blocking hormones made by the placenta. If diagnosed in time, gestational diabetes gets cured in most cases.

Causes of diabetes

Each type of diabetes has a different cause. Type 1 diabetes has contributing factors like family history/genetics and environmental factors. The immune system wrongly targets and destroys insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas for some unknown reason. Additionally, a virus may trigger an immune system response.

Type 2 diabetes is caused because of both genetic and environmental factors. The risk is further increased if you are overweight or obese. The effect of insulin on your blood sugar are resisted by your cells more when you are overweight, especially in the stomach area. Sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits add on as risk factors that promote diabetes prevalence.

Treatment

Treatment options vary depending on the kind of diabetes you have, how well your blood glucose levels are under control, and any other underlying medical disorders you may have.

  • For Type 1 diabetes, insulin is advised every day since your pancreas no longer produces insulin.
  • For Type 2 diabetes, your treatments may include insulin, medicines (both for diabetes itself and for conditions that increase your likelihood of developing the disease), and dietary and lifestyle modifications including weight management, nutritious diet, and increasing your physical activity.

Myths

There are several popularly accepted myths about diabetes and its treatments. Here are some diabetes related facts you should be aware of:

Myth - Sugar intake results in diabetes.

Fact – sugar and other forms of carbohydrate, consumption can result in obesity and being overweight, which are risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Myth - Those who have diabetes must fully avoid sugar.

Fact - Those who have diabetes must undoubtedly watch their carbohydrate consumption and carefully control their meals. Alternative to simple sugars is fructose in fruits, dark chocolate with > 85 per cent cocoa, and less than 5g/ 100 sugar.

Myth - I won't develop diabetes since nobody in my family does.

Fact - It is accurate to say that having a parent or sibling who has the disease enhances your likelihood of developing it yourself. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are prone to family history. However, a lot of diabetics do not have any immediate family members who also have the disease.

Diabetes is a life-changing disease that demands regular blood sugar monitoring and a healthy lifestyle. If a person is prediabetic, regular exercise and a well-balanced, low-carbohydrate diet can help reduce the likelihood to develop full-blown diabetes.

Also, once you have diabetes controlling what you eat can reverse the process and you can be less dependent on medicines. Controlling diabetes is essential, since it can have serious side effects, such as kidney failure and stroke. Anyone who suspects they may have diabetes, should consult an Endocrinologist to get accurately diagnosis and follow the recommended steps.

– Dr. Archana Purushothaman, Consultant Endocrinologist at Fakeeh University Hospital, Dubai Silicon Oasis


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