DIABETES – A DEATH SENTENCE OR…?

“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)

 

RISK FACTORS

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!

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      DEALING WITH A SORE THROAT

It’s that season of the year where a lot of people have this itchy, irritating, and sometimes painful feeling in their throat. This pain can even make swallowing fluid and food a little difficult. While a sore throat may not often send you to the Doctor or lead to a medical emergency, it sure can keep you uncomfortable, alter your daily routine or even rob you of a good night sleep. Below you can find out more about the causes of a sore throat, some remedies and how to prevent it from happening to you.

CAUSES OF SORE THROAT

A sore throat is usually caused by the cold or flu virus. However, in rare cases, a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, whooping cough and diphtheria, can cause a sore throat. Less commonly, smoking, hay fever (an allergic reaction to pollen or spores), or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (a condition that causes acid to leak upwards from the stomach into the gullet) can also cause a sore throat.

Some people may put up with the discomfort associated with a sore throat. But if you’re like me and your work requires talking to people – whether it’s a large group of persons, a handful of people or just one person – you definitely would want some relief.

REMEDIES FOR SORE THROAT

A sore throat usually runs its course and resolves within seven days. There are, however, some home remedies you can use.

Painkillers

Over-the-counter medications painkillers, such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) are usually recommended for a sore throat, especially if it is associated with fever.

Please always read the manufacturer’s instructions so you do not exceed the recommended or prescribed dose.

Self-care tips

The following tips may help relieve the symptoms of sore throat:

  • Gargle regularly with a mouthwash of lukewarm, salty water. This may help reduce swelling or pain.
  • You can suck over-the-counter lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes or ice-lollies (this is only suitable for adults and children over 5 years).
  • Extracts, supplements and oils of garlic, licorice, fenugreek, and peppermint have also been shown to relieve a sore throat. Please talk with your Doctor before using any supplement or oil.

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  • Honey alone or mixed with lemon may help soothe and speed healing for a sore throat.
  • Drink cool or warm liquids and eat soft food.
  • Abstain from food or drink that is too hot and spicy, as this could irritate the throat.
  • You can use a humidifier to moisten your room as this has a way of reducing the pain caused by a sore throat.
  • Avoid smoking and smoky environments.

 

Antibiotics

The use of antibiotics is not usually recommended for treating sore throats. Most sore throats are not caused by bacteria, hence, you may not need an antibiotic. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics to treat minor ailments can also make them less effective in the treatment of life-threatening conditions (a problem know as ‘antibiotic resistance’).

However, in some cases your Doctor might issue you a prescription. This is usually the case in severe sore throat associated with other medical conditions like weakened immune system, recurrent infections, etc.

PREVENTING A SORE THROAT

As sore throats are caused by bacterial or viral infections, they can be difficult to prevent.

Practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands regularly and keeping surfaces clean and germ-free; and, staying away from people who are sick with an infectious illness like the flu or strep can help you prevent getting sore throat. Generally, we recommend you keep your immune system strong by taking enough rest, exercising regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Don’t let a sore throat make your day sour; you can do something about it. We hope these tips help!

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