Blood Glucose Monitoring machine

What is Diabetes and what are the symptoms?

Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly known as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorder characterized by a high blood sugar level over a prolonged period of time. Symptoms often include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased appetite.

What are the complications?

 If left untreated, diabetes can cause many serious complications that include among others; kidney damage, cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, stroke etc), sexual dysfunction, foot ulcers, nerve damage, eye damage and cognitive impairment. 

How is Diabetes Classified and what causes it?

Diabetes is due to either the pancrease not producing enough insulin, or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. There are three main types of diabetes mellitus.

Type 1 results from the pancreas’s failure to produce enough insulin due to loss of beta cells. This form was previously referred to as “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (IDDM) or “juvenile diabetes”. The loss of beta cells is caused by an autoimmune response (body negatively reacting to/attacking own cells). The cause of this autoimmune response is unknown.

Type 2 begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses, a lack of insulin may also develop. This form was previously referred to as “non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes”. The most common cause is a combination of excessive body weight, diet and insufficient exercise.

Gestation diabetes is the third main form, and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop high blood sugar levels.

Why prevent Diabetes?

Prevention of diabetes means you ll’ not have to treat it as well as have healthier lifestyle and prevent complications and possibly death.

Is Diabetes Common in Zambia?

Ohh yes, diabetes is more prevalent than ever in many developing countries including Zambia and about 95% of all cases diagnosed are type 2 diabetes. Although for some the development of diabetes is inevitable, perhaps due to hereditary and other factors, for the vast majority prevention and care of diabetes can be achieved by taking these 7 simple steps……

Before diabetes type 2 becomes fully developed you go through a stage known as pre-diabetes. This is where you start to show some of the symptoms, which if ignored, can lead to full blown diabetes.

Make these 7 action points part of your daily routine and you could stop this disease ultimately preventing permanent health complications like those listed above.

1) If you are overweight you risk developing diabetes. Reduce the amount of food on your plate so you gradually eat less and start to lose weight. Drink a glass of plain water or a sugar-free drink before your meal to take the edge of any hunger pains.

2) Reduce the amount of fat you are eating; grill or bake foods instead of frying; use low-fat spreads and reduced fat meals. In prevention and care of diabetes, watch out for fat and fatty meals.

3) Check the Glycemic Index of the food you are eating – knowing what each food contains helps maintain your blood-sugars, which in turn can prevent the full onset of diabetes.

4) Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. If you keep a bottle of water with you and sip frequently you’ll be surprised how much you will drink throughout the day.

5) If you are feeling peckish choose a healthy snack rather than a chocolate bar. Peckish means eating a pudding, fruit salad, natural juice or garden salads.

6) Use skimmed rather than full-fat milk in hot drinks (or fat free milk).

7) Regular exercise is good for diabetics as it helps to maintain insulin sensitivity, prevent the accumulation of excess weight, and increases the use of glucose by muscles, thereby lowering blood sugar levels. But if you are not used to exercise then start in moderation. 15 minutes gentle walking each day will ease you into a regular exercising pattern. Please note, if you walk for the same minutes each day to work, your body gets used to it and might not count as exercise in the long term.

We recommend these points to avoid the possibly of developing irreparable damage to your health (Kidneys, eyes etc.). Watch out for the next article for Diabetics (treatment and personal care)..…

Compiled by Pharmacist Saini Kennedy L. (Community Pharmacist)

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