What you should know about diabetes

For World Diabetes Day, here are some facts about diabetes and its rampant growth in India and how it can be managed

By Compiled by Dr Parul R Sheth

Diabetes today has turned into a global crisis. India is now regarded as the ‘Diabetic Capital’ of the world. At present about 4 crore Indians are suffering from Diabetes. According to WHO there will be 1 Indian out of 2 Diabetic patients of the world by 2025. The figures are alarming; 20% or 33 million of the world’s diabetics are Indians.


Reports suggest that currently, the 40-59 year age group has the greatest number of diabetics with some 113 million people, of which more than 70% live in developing countries. The mean age of occurrence of diabetes in India is 43 years, which is a decade earlier than the western population. Unfortunately, 80% of people with diabetes just do not know that they have it. Moreover, only 12 to 14% of diabetics in India are treated; 50-70% are under general practitioners.

In order to curb the rising figures, you need to combat this silent killer by creating mass awareness and seeking medical help in the nick of time. The disease can give rise to several complications and hence monitoring and controlling blood glucose levels, lifestyle management as in diet, increasing physical activity can help you live a healthy life. For creating a ‘diabetes aware society’ self-help groups can play an important role in motivating people with diabetes.

World diabetes facts

  • Each year 7 million people develop diabetes
  • Each year 70,000 children develop type 1 diabetes
  • Every 10 seconds two people develop diabetes
  • Every 10 seconds one person dies of diabetes

Look out for warning signs

  • Frequent urination
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lack of energy

Diabetes testing

If you have diabetes, it means you have too much sugar or glucose in your blood, although the reasons may differ, which can lead to serious health problems. There are several monitoring and testing methods such as glycated haemoglobin (A1C) test, random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test and post lunch or oral glucose tolerance test.

WHO number

  Fasting plasma glucose    2 hours post 75 mg glucose
 Normal  < 110 mg/dl < 140 mg/dl 
Pre-diabetes 110-126 mg/dl  140-200 mg/dl
Diabetes  > 126 mg/dl > 200 mg/dl


         
Diabetes management

Remember, diabetes cannot be cured; it needs to be managed. Blood sugar monitoring, insulin and oral medications play a role in the treatment. Many types of insulin are available. Insulin is often injected using a fine needle and syringe or an insulin pen. An insulin pump also may be an option. Insulin nasal spray and insulin patch are in the offing.

Over time, high blood sugar levels as in uncontrolled diabetes can damage your blood vessels and nerves causing damage to many areas of the body. Unmanaged diabetes can then lead to several complications, which can be disabling or even life-threatening. Statistics reveal that people with diabetes are 25 times more likely to develop blindness, 17 times more likely to develop kidney failure, 30 times more likely to undergo amputation, 5 times more likely to have a heart attack and 3 times more likely to have a stroke. 

Creating awareness

Several programmes have been organised to create diabetes mass awareness in the country to celebrate the World Diabetes Day this year. Diabetes Awareness and You, a social welfare organisation in Kolkata have charted out programmes such as adoption of a village to create a diabetes awareness village, launch of mobile diabetes centre, diabetes walk, a blue light march etc. “Bring Diabetes to Light”,  a programme initiated by WHO and International Diabetes Federation (IDF), involves lighting up of prominent buildings and monuments.  

Source: Diabetes & You and Dr Debashis Basu

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