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Stop! Think Diabetes. Now Choose Wisely

12-Nov-2014.By: Elsie Osho

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Many people have wrong notion of “diabetes as an illness suffered by only the elderly in the society. Some even think Diabetes is peculiar to the elite few. Maybe this would have been correct many years back; but today diabetes can occur in anyone. Strange but true. Diabetes is nearly four times as common as all types of the popular cancer we hear about, combined. It is fast becoming the 21st century's major public-health concern.

An average Nigerian, mostly the working class hardly have time for healthy food all in the name of being too busy for healthy home-made food. They stop by at the eatery to buy a snack and cold beverage because they are too hungry to wait for the proper or suitable food. This is repeated the next day, same the following day; and so the routine continues without noticing they have unconsciously chosen a pattern of eating that is very unhealthy.

There’s no crime in enjoying yourself with delightful, often times expensive, snacks and pastries from the eateries, but what happens when you do this too often for comfort? Let me help you answer the question. You are opening yourself up to a sort of illness that comes as a result of living maybe expensive but unhealthy and careless life. The kind of illness that come as a result of unhealthy living are; Coronary Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, Obesity, etc.

More than 50% of sickness experienced today is as a result of unhealthy diet and lifestyle over time. Diabetes can be hereditary, however, people who have close relatives with the disease are somewhat more likely to develop it as well. The risk of developing diabetes also increases as people grow older. People who are over 40 and overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, although the incidence of type 2 diabetes in adolescents is growing.

Recent statistics from World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Diabetes Federation (IDF) which reported a global estimate of 347 million people living with Diabetes, with 19.8 million people from Africa. According to IDF 2013 report, Nigeria has the highest number of people with diabetes in Africa, with 3.9 million cases and 4.9% national prevalence rate.

Diabetes is known as a silent disease. Its symptoms are often ignored in the initial stages. In diabetes, blood sugar levels are elevated. If blood sugar levels are not controlled for prolonged periods of time, it could lead to severe diabetes complications. This could include damage to important bodily functions.Diabetes complications are usually a result of years of uncontrolled and poorly managed diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This leads to an abnormally high level of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia). Hyperglycaemia or raised blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels, leading to irreversible blindness, stroke, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, limb amputation etc.

Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent or childhood-onset diabetes) is characterized by a lack of insulin production; while Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes) is caused by the body’s ineffective use of insulin. It often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity. Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia that is first recognized during pregnancy.

Some Diabetes signs appear like the regular feeling we have when stressed while some are not, such as; Frequent thirst, Frequent urination, Fatigue, Blurred vision, Tingling or pain in the hands, Tingling or pain feet and/or legs. Diabetes attacks delicate and major organs in our body like our heart, eyes, kidney, feet, nerves…

Heart-There is a close relation between poorly managed diabetes and heart disease. In fact, cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in diabetics. Research also suggests that people with type-2 diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke and heart disease, compared to people who do not have diabetes. Diabetescan lead to high blood pressure and is believed to be linked with high levels of cholesterol, which significantly increases a person’s risk of getting a heart attack.

Kidneys- Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure. Prolonged periods of high blood sugar levels can damage the tiny filtering units within the kidney leading to kidney failure. People with diabeteshave a higher risk of kidney disease called nephropathy. The first signs of kidney damage are high levels of protein in the urine. This could be followed by symptoms of fatigue, headache, vomiting, nausea and fluid retention.

Eyes- Diabetes can affect the nerves of the eye. High levels of blood sugar can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eye. This can lead to formation of new blood vessels in the eye. However, the new blood vessels that are formed are weak and can easily leak or burst fluid. This medical condition is known as diabetic retinopathy. Early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy can help in restoring normal vision by allowing for treatment with laser surgery.

Nerve Damage-The effect of diabetes on the nerves is a serious issue. This is because nerves play an important role in the coordination of important bodily functions. High levels of blood sugar can damage nerves and result in neuropathy. Signs of nerve damage would involve feeling of numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, delayed stomach emptying and problems with blood circulation (frequent cramps).

Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves of the feet. This can lead to decreased sensation in the feet. This decrease in sensation could pose a big problem. A diabetic may not feel a cut or a sore in the feet. Also, damage to the nerves in the feet could also mean that your foot would now get less of oxygen and blood. Thus, it takes more time for your feet to heal. This is known as diabetic foot.

Complications during pregnancy-Elevated levels of blood sugar during pregnancy can contribute to the weight of the fetus. This could lead to problems during delivery. Also, children who are exposed to high blood sugar levels in the womb are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Mouth- Glucose is present in your saliva—the fluid in your mouth that makes it wet. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow. These bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or starches. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath.


Last Updated: 13-Jul-2017 10:09 AM

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