“I didn’t think going to see a healthcare practitioner was necessary until I noticed that a little bruise I had last week was not healing. I have also been having this tingling sensation in my hands with occasional numbness. To make matters worse, my vision became blurred and I started urinating more than five times a day.”
These were the words of a 54-year-old civil servant that walked into the Pharmacy to fill a prescription for antidiabetic drugs after being diagnosed of type 2 diabetes. According to a recent study, about 5.5 percent of Nigerians have diabetes. In this article, we’ll explain what diabetes is, what the symptoms and risk factors are, and how you can manage it.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is a chronic non-communicable disease in which the body doesn’t produce or effectively use insulin. Without continuous, adequate management, diabetes can cause an accumulation of sugar (glucose) in the blood. This can heighten the risk of serious complications, including stroke and heart disease.
TYPES OF DIABETES
There are basically three types of diabetes, namely: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes)occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. People with this type of diabetes are insulin-dependent; that is, they have to take artificial insulin every day to keep living.
Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body produces insulin. Though the body produces insulin, unlike type 1, the body cells do not effectively respond to it (as they would in a non-diabetic person). Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is strongly linked with obesity.
Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women as a result of the body’s reduced sensitivity to insulin. This type of diabetes, however, does not occur in all women and often resolves after giving birth.
When the concentration of glucose(sugar) in your blood is between 70 to 99mg/dl (milligram per deciliter), your blood sugar is said to be normal. When this sugar level rises to between 100 to 125mg/dl, the condition is known as borderline diabetes or pre-diabetes. This simply means that the blood glucose is higher than normal but not so high to be termed diabetes. A person with diabetes will have a fasting blood sugar higher than 126mg/dl. If you have pre-diabetes, certain lifestyle modifications such as losing weight and eating healthy diet can hinder progression to type 2 diabetes.
SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
If you notice any of these symptoms, please see your Doctor.
- Frequent urination.
- Excessive thirst and feeling of hunger even after eating.
- Blurry vision.
- Bruises/cuts that do not heal fast.
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling sensation, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
The following can make you sustain a higher risk of developing diabetes.
- Being overweight.
- Sedentary lifestyle (a lifestyle involving little or no physical activity).
- Family history of diabetes or high blood pressure.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level lower than 40mg/dl or 50mg/dl.
- Being above 45 years of age.
- History of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
TIPS FOR MANAGING DIABETES
Although diabetes is one of the leading causes of death globally, it is not a death sentence. If you have diabetes, the following steps can help you lead a healthy life. You don’t have to wait until you are prediabetic, diabetic or until it’s complicated before you follow these simple steps.
- Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels using a glucometer is vital for effective diabetes management as it helps a person regulate meal scheduling, physical activity and when to take medications while keeping track of their progress.
- Eating a diet high in fresh, nutritious foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and healthy fat sources such as nuts.
- Refraining from foods high in sugar that provide empty calories that do not have other nutritional benefits such as fried foods, high sugar desserts, etc.
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol. Preferably keep intake to less than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.
- Engaging in at least 30 minutes exercise a day, at least five times per week. Suitable forms of exercise include walking, aerobics, riding a bike or swimming. When exercising, it is also important to recognize signs of low blood sugar, such as dizziness, confusion, weakness and profuse sweating.
By following these simple steps, you can stay healthy and you may keep diabetes away. We hope these tips help!F