NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – Diabetes is a chronic medical condition, meaning that although it can be controlled, it lasts a lifetime.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels that result from defects in insulin secretion or the body’s ability to use insulin.
Normally, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the blood glucose level. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas. This release of insulin promotes the uptake of glucose into body cells.
In patients with diabetes, the absence of, insufficient production of or lack of response to insulin causes hyperglycemia. The 14th of November is marked as the World Diabetes Day globally, every year.
The aim of this day is to sensitize the world as to the measures that International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has taken in creating global awareness on diabetes.
This particular day also happens to be the birthday of Sir Fredrick Banting, who along with Charles Best, discovered insulin back in 1922.
The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day was the family and diabetes – it was meant to create awareness on the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of the individual living with diabetes. It also aimed to promote the role that this support network plays in the management, care, prevention and education of people living with diabetes.
It is important that family members are aware of the signs and symptoms that characterize diabetes and also evaluate their own risks for developing diabetes. These signs and symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, increased thirst and increased frequency of urination.
It has been established that 4 out of 5 parents with a family member with diabetes has a difficult time identifying the signs and symptoms of diabetes while 1 of 3 will not be able to spot them at all.
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are often milder and non-specific when compared to those of Type 1 diabetes. Bearing in mind that Type 2 diabetes forms 90% of all forms of diabetes and one in two people with diabetes globally remains undiagnosed.
Early diagnosis and treatment is paramount to preventing and/or delaying onset of complications related to diabetes. These complications include blindness, lower limb amputations, kidney failure, strokes or heart attacks.
Many cases of Type 2 diabetes may be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle which encompasses a healthy diet and regular exercise. A healthy diet includes limiting caloric intake, replacing saturated with unsaturated fats, increasing dietary fiber and avoiding tobacco use as well as limiting alcohol intake.
Exercise should consist of both aerobic and resistance training 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each. These measures may be taken up as the family so as to encourage consistency and help the affected individual feel supported.
Up to 51% of people living with diabetes have felt that the diagnosis has put a strain on the family while 2 out of 5 patients had anxiety upon diagnosis or felt that they would be a burden to their families.
Only one in four families have access to diabetes education programs. To this end, education and ongoing support should be available to patients and their families, regular and good quality medications should be accessible and affordable so as to help families cope with the diagnosis.
The Diabetes Clinic is one of the Specialist Centres at the Nairobi Hospital. The care providers here are knowledgeable and skilled so as to help individuals and their families manage diabetes.
Whether you’re trying to prevent or control diabetes, there is some good news. You can make a big difference with healthy lifestyle changes. The most important thing you can do for your health is to lose weight – and you don’t have to lose all your extra pounds to reap the benefits.
Experts say that losing just 5% to 10% of your total weight can help you lower your blood sugar considerably, as well as lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s not too late to make a positive change, even if you’ve already developed diabetes.
The bottom line is that you have more control over your health than you think.