Diabetes Day


Today, 14 November, is World Diabetes Day. It is time for a more serious blog article. Living with Diabetes can be very daunting, especially since it is a condition that will need to be managed well for you to continue to live a healthy, energised life.

In 2006 there were 230 million people worldwide who had been diagnosed with diabetes. Within 20 years that number is expected to rise to 350 million people worldwide. In South Africa there are approximately 1.9 million people living with diabetes. As urbanisation increases, the number rises. Diabetes accounts for 5% of all deaths around the world each year. It is considered a pandemic that needs to be addressed urgently.

Who is at risk of developing diabetes?

Diabetes is classified as:
  • Type 1 (No insulin is produced),
  • Type 2 (Insulin is still produced but is not used effectively by the cells),
  • Gestational (occurs during pregnancy),
  • Impaired glucose tolerance or
  • Other.

Type 2 Diabetes used to be called Adult or Age Onset Diabetes, mainly because it normally made itself know as we got older. Today, though, the number of younger adults, and even teens and children that are exhibiting signs of diabetes is staggering. This can be attributed to poor lifestyle choices - too much sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, and not enough exercise.
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The following factors play a role in the development of diabetes:
  • Over 40 years of age
  • First degree relative with diabetes
  • History of impaired glucose tolerance
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress

Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes

The following are signs that you may have raised blood sugar levels:
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive hunger
  • Passing large amounts of urine
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased number of infections
  • Itchiness and skin rashes
  • Weight changes
  • Moodiness
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Muscle cramps

If you are exhibiting any of these signs it is a good idea to have your blood sugar levels tested. To get an idea of whether you have raised blood sugar, a simple finger-prick test can be done at most pharmacies. If that test is high, you will probably be encouraged to do more formal testing including a fasting blood glucose test, HbA1C (gives an indication of blood sugar control over 3 months) and a glucose tolerance test (your fasting blood sugar is measured before you are given a dose of glucose whereafter it is measured every 2 hours)

Normal plasma glucose levels:
Fasting = <6 mmol/L
2 Hours after eating = <7.7mmol/L

Impaired Glucose Tolerance:
Fasting = 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/L
2 Hours after eating = 7.8 to 11 mmol/L

Fasting = >7 mmol/L
2 Hours after eating = > 11.1 mmol/L

Diabetes is a life-long condition that can be very well managed with lifestyle changes and medication.

Medical management of Type 2 Diabetes

The pharmacological management of diabetes involves both oral agents (pills) and insulin (injections)

There are 5 classes of oral agents that each have a different action. These actions include:
  • Increasing the secretion of insulin (Sulphonylureas)
  • Decreasing the production of glucose in the liver, Slight suppression of appetite and slight increase in insulin sensitivity (Meglitinides)
  • Increase in peripheral insulin sensitivity (Biguanides)
  • Slow down of digestion in gastrointestinal tract (Thiazolinediones)
  • Inhibition of the enzyme alpha glucosidase ( Alpha Glucosidase Inhibitors)

Although pharmacological management is important, it is even more important to make the necessary lifestyle changes in order to gain control over your blood sugar levels. Have a look at the article: The Dietary Management of Diabetes.

Being diagnosed with Diabetes is not a death sentence. By making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can live a normal life. It is a learning process and you will need a lot of support from your medical team as well as family and friends.

To living a sweet life!

Wendy Signature
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