In the entire spectrum of chronic debilitating disorders plaguing the world, perhaps the one we most frequently fall prey to is diabetes. If we were to personify the disorder, diabetes is like a typical elusive fugitive of law, that lies low and keeps growing slowly and then strikes suddenly out of the blue; when you least expected it to raise its ugly head. A growing body of evidence suggests that diabetes takes a toll on your health, bit by bit, like a parasite slowly relishing on its host; and serves your health a big blow when its just about time for you to enjoy life. That’s the character of diabetes – short and ‘sweet’; no pun intended! Very aptly thus, the WHO adopted “Diabetes” as its theme for commemorating World Health Day 2016.
The “Not-so-sweet” statistics: The scale of the disease nationally and globally
The WHO has promulgated the grim reality of diabetes in its global epidemiological statistics. Nearly 422 million adults were living with diabetes until 2014. Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with 3.7 million deaths every year across the world. The WHO estimates diabetes to be affecting one in every eleven people. It’s needless to say then that the disease is indeed a globe trotter!! And sadly though, India is its favorite destination, that’s what is all the more unnerving. India is home to more than 65.1 million diabetics; a figure that has risen by almost 15 million in less than a decade; as per India specific figures, released by the International Diabetes Foundation.
Wreaks havoc, consumes you gradually!
Diabetes is a killer disease, an enemy of your state of well being. Either your pancreas just does not produce enough insulin to regulate the sugar levels in your body which results in Type 1 diabetes (the less common variant) or even though the pancreas produces adequate amounts of insulin, your body is not efficient enough to optimally utilize this insulin for regulation of sugar; which causes Type 2 diabetes (the most rampant form of the disease). Type 1 is more common among children whereas Type 2 is what most adults suffer from. Obesity, stress, sedentary lifestyle, junk food, heredity, ethnicity, tobacco and alcohol consumption, pancreatic disorders and cardiovascular disease are a few prominent and known triggers for diabetes – though a number of other factors have also been identified. Wounds that takes longer to heal, arteries that begin to harden and show clogged areas, lipid profile results going astray, deteriorating oral health conditions, resorbing bones, feet looking ugly with ulcers and swelling, blood pressure being on the higher side, the cropping up of problems in your renal system, blurring of vision, complications in pregnancy and interference with normal brain function – as a diabetic, you could reel under the impact of such complications.
Correct and timely diagnosis is your best savior
The safeguard lies in you getting your blood sugar levels checked regularly. Diabetes becomes a multi pronged medical challenge once it advances and systemic complications set in. Thus, you need to be on the vigil and nip it in the bud, when the disease is at an early stage. This holds especially true for those who are predisposed to the risks and triggers of diabetes, like those with a poor genetic history and lifestyle related issues. In any case, it is prudent to check your post prandial (after meal) blood sugar (PPBS) and fasting blood sugar (FBS) levels annually. You then need to report with your test results to your specialist or family physician; so that you could receive medical guidance, supervision and further monitoring can be done by your doctor by conducting subsequent tests at regular intervals. The glycated hemoglobin test (HbA1c) test is a standard test that the doctor would like to perform when diagnosing and monitoring a case of diabetes. The test needs to be performed once every three months and the test results tell your doctor the extent of glycemic control that your body has been able to achieve.
The Homeostasis Model Assessment (HOMA) represents a novel concept in the work up of diabetes. This test gives your doctor an insight into the functioning of your pancreas and also quantifies the extent to which your body tissues utilize the available insulin for regulating blood sugar. The HOMA test can thus provide added information which would not be available from the other blood tests performed under the diabetes work up.
The clinician looks at your test results in conjunction with clinical examination and your personal/medical history, to diagnose whether or not you are diabetic. The test results also guide the clinician in selecting the most suited therapy and the dosing regimen. In a nutshell, the crux of what we are trying to highlight here is that “the earlier you get to know about your diabetic status, the better can be the clinical response to management of the disease”.
Tips for prevention – You are precious, stay healthy and live longer
- Target the modifiable risk factors of the disease like lifestyle, bad diet and stress; try to minimize these as far as possible
- Quit smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Get your blood sugar levels checked regularly to catch the disease at an early stage
- Consult your doctor with your blood sugar tests if you encounter excess thirst, hunger and urine
- Per your doctor’s advice, keep repeating your blood sugar tests to ensure that your doctor can monitor you regularly
- Regular moderate exercises, yoga and meditation
- Consult a nutritionist or a dietician for a meal plan that suits you the best – ample consumption of water and green leafy vegetables and fibrous food with a low glycemic index
- If you are already a diagnosed diabetic, take care to keep you sugar levels under control – again minimize the modifiable risk factors – so that you do not slip into the advanced form of the disease that brings in complications
Diabetes can be managed adequately. All you need is discipline in your lifestyle, clinical support and will. It’s not the end of the road for you if you are diabetic. There are endless possibilities to make life “sweeter”.