Diabetes & How to Avoid it
1. What Is Diabetes And What Are The Different Types?
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a condition where concentration of glucose in blood is higher than normal.
A person has Diabetes Mellitus if one of the following is present:
- Fasting blood glucose ≥ 126 mg/dl
- Post meal blood glucose after 2 hours ≥ 200 mg/d
- HbA1c ≥ 6.5%
In a normal person during fasting state, blood glucose levels are usually between 70-100 mg/dl, and during fed state glucose levels rarely cross 140 mg/dl.
There are various types of diabetes
- Type 1 DM
- Type 2 DM
- Other specific diabetes – which includes:
- Diabetes due to some medicines/drugs
- Diabetes due to other underlying disease
- Diabetes due to some infections, etc.
- Pregnancy related diabetes or gestational diabetes
Type 2, Type 1 and pregnancy related diabetes account for almost 99% of all the diabetes patients. Type 2 DM alone accounts for almost 90% of all the diabetes patients.
Type 1 DM is caused by deficiency of insulin, where as Type 2 DM is caused mainly by insulin resistance (inefficiency of insulin) though the exact Pathogenesis of the disease is much more complex.
2. What Are the Early Signs of Diabetes?
Unfortunately, there are no EARLY signs/symptoms of diabetes. It is predominantly an asymptomatic disease at least to begin with. Though there are certain symptoms which should lead to suspicion of having diabetes like excessive thirst/urination/hunger/weight loss despite overeating and recurrent infections etc., these symptoms occur mostly when diabetes is already overt rather than in early stages. That’s why it is recommended to check blood glucose for all people especially those who are overweight or obese, annually.
3. What Health Problems Can People with Diabetes Develop?
Diabetes in the long run causes damage to almost all the vital organs of the body. It significantly increases the chances of having a heart attack and stroke.
Also, diabetes is the leading cause of end stage kidney disease worldwide. Most of the patients requiring dialysis also have diabetes.
Diabetes causes a specific type of eye affliction called as diabetic Retinopathy, which can lead to blindness. Besides Retinopathy, diabetes also causes cataract, glaucoma and dry eye.
Diabetes also causes disease of the nerves called as diabetic Neuropathy. It results in significant reduction in quality of life as it often causes burning pain in legs especially at night. It also leads to loss of sensation in feet, making them more prone to trauma which goes unrecognized.
Diabetes also increases the chances of having infections, like urinary infections, respiratory, skin and genital infections.
4. How Can Diabetes Be Avoided/Treated?
Treatment of diabetes involves lifestyle changes and medical treatment. Lifestyle changes are very important but unfortunately less stressed upon.
They include following:
Diet: Avoid simple carbohydrates like rice/wheat/sweets. More intake of fruits and vegetables (complex carbohydrates) is recommended.
Exercise: Physical activity for 30 minutes per day for 5 days a week.
Quit smoking: no amount of smoking is safe.
Weight Management: The weight loss of 4-6% of total body weight is associated with significant reduction in glucose levels. It also reduces chances of progression from pre-diabetes to overt diabetes.
Medical Treatment: As advised by the doctor, along with regular lab tests. Frequency of lab tests –
Kidney functions/lipids/liver functions: once every 6-12 months
HBA1C: every 3 months.
6. How Common Is the Disease in UAE?
As per the latest International Diabetes Federation (IDF) data there are almost 1.2 million patients of diabetes in UAE, which is around 15% of the adult population. The numbers have been going up only over the last decade and are expected to go up further in coming years.