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Expert Article: Diabetes, Pausing The 'Sweetness' Of Life: Early Awareness Can Help Treat The Condition

By Dr. Sandep Reddy, Senior Endocrinologist

World Diabetes Day is observed on 14th November. On this day, efforts are made to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes can have on a family and the support network of those affected. The initiative promotes the role of a family in the management, care, prevention and education related to diabetes. This global awareness campaign focuses on various aspects of diabetes mellitus.

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021-23 is 'Access to Diabetes Care'. A 100 years after the discovery of insulin, millions of people with diabetes around the world cannot access the care they need. People with diabetes require ongoing care and support to manage their condition and avoid complications.

Diabetes, today is a serious epidemic and lifestyle disease, affecting millions around the world, and India is known as the Diabetes Capital of the World. 1 in 2 people lives with Type 2 diabetes.

Globally, an estimated 537 million adults (20-79 years) are living with diabetes now (in 2021), compared to 108 million in 1980. This number is predicted to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 784 million by 2045. Over 4 in 5 adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries. In India, more than 77 million adults are living with diabetes. This number is expected to increase to 134 million by 2045. This reflects an increase in associated risk factors such as being overweight or obese. Over the past decade, the prevalence of diabetes has risen faster in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation. However, there's no need to despair. Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with medication, regular screening and treatment for complications.

There are different types of diabetes like Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, Prediabetes, and Gestational diabetes. Less common types include Monogenic diabetes syndromes, Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, and drug or chemical-induced diabetes. Diabetes insipidus is a distinct rare condition that causes the kidneys to produce a large amount of urine.

"The symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, hunger and urination, extreme weakness and tiredness, burning sensation in the feet and hands, and unexplained weight loss. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a doctor immediately to check for diabetes. When you get the first suspicion of diabetes, get it confirmed or negated by checking fasting sugar, 2 hours post-meal sugar level, and a test called the HBA1C, which provides the 3-month average sugar levels," said Dr Sandeep, Senior Endocrinologist, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or when it cannot effectively use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, which gives us the energy needed to do everyday tasks. Unable to get into the cells to be burned as energy, the sugar can build up to harmful levels in the blood.

Diabetes management includes following a healthy diet, doing physical activity, avoiding smoking, taking prescribed medications on time, regularly screening for complications, and treatment of associated conditions (hypertension, dyslipidaemia).

Diet: The basis rule here is ZERO SUGAR DIET: Rice (preferably brown rice) or wheat-based diet in normal quantities is absolutely fine. Prefer green vegetables, one or two servings of fruits in a day is good. Fish or chicken is preferable than meat for diabetics. Fiber-rich foods (like beans, apples, pears, green leafy vegetables) are preferable. This helps in reducing your post-meal sugar excursions.

Story first published: Sunday, November 14, 2021, 11:15 [IST]