by: Dr Janet Strauss
It is World Diabetes Day on the 14th of November. This day celebrates Sr. Frederick Banting’s birthday, the co-founder of Insulin. Although this disease is known to most, the impact of this disease is understated and underrated. Very important, is to prevent diabetes, diagnose it early, or prevent possible complications if you are already a diabetic. Vascular (blood vessel) complications resulting in kidney disease, damage to the retina (resulting in loss of vision), poor blood circulation to the lower limbs (in cases leading to amputation), heart attacks and strokes are a reality and best avoided. There are different types of diabetes (Type 1, Type 2, Monogenetic, gestational, and neonatal) and treatment is adjusted according to blood glucose levels and the underlying pathology.
Maybe the 13th of November can be assigned to Prediabetes Day, as it is just as necessary to look at this condition as well. The saying “prevention is better than cure” stays true, it is a good idea to test your glucose every year or if you experience symptoms like excessive thirst, needing to urinate more often, or if you experience blurred vision, visit your healthcare professional right away. If your blood glucose is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, you will be classified as pre-diabetic. This condition is mostly relevant in Type 2 diabetes. There are no overt symptoms in pre-diabetes, but some risk factors were identified:
- Being overweight
- If you are 45 years or older
- If you have a first-degree relative with Type 2 diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- History of stroke or heart disease
- Females diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Metabolic syndrome (large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high cholesterol).
How is pre-diabetes managed? Lifestyle modifications are your first step and can make a significant impact to halt a possible progression to diabetes.
- Losing up to 7% of your body weight can reduce your risk.
- Exercise regularly- combine aerobic exercise with weight training.
- Stop smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
- Eat a balanced diet (if you need help, visit your dietician)
- Your GP might prescribe anti-diabetic medication that could assist with insulin resistance.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, whichever type, it is good to join a support group. You will get many tips on handling this condition and you can learn from others’ mistakes!
Contact Medwell SA (www.medwell.co.za) for assistance or for diabetes at-home care.