These are the most frequently asked questions about diabetes.
Question: What is diabetes?
Answer: When the body is unable to produce or properly store and use glucose, a condition named diabetes is caused. The result of this inability to utilise glucose is that glucose is backed up in the bloodstream, which causes the blood glucose to rise too high.
Question: What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Answer: The two major types of diabetes is type 1 (insulin production malfunctions completely) and type 2 (not enough insulin is produced or the body is incapable of using insulin produced properly). Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1. Insulin is an essential hormone without which the body cannot control or properly use glucose.
Question: Who is affected by diabetes?
Answer: According to the World Health Organisation, there are approximately 364 million people worldwide living with diabetes and it affects both males and females. The numbers are increasing, especially in developing countries. Diabetes is the major cause of kidney failure in the world and attributes for 5% blindness in adults and over a million limb amputations.
Question: What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Answer: Symptoms indicating the presence of diabetes include being very thirsty, weight loss, increased hunger, frequent skin, gum and bladder infections, impaired vision and extreme unexplained fatigue.
Question: Who are prone to develop diabetes?
Answer: Although diabetes can occur in anyone, people with a family history of diabetes are more likely to develop the disease. Risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and physical inactivity. The risk of developing diabetes increases as people age, and women who develop diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) are more likely to develop the disease again later in life.
Question: How is diabetes managed?
Answer: Physical health is important to manage the disease and people who have diabetes should focus on having a meal plan, pay attention to the physical activity they engage in, use medication (pills or insulin injection) and visit their specialist (endocrinologist) at least once every six months. It is important to have regular eye examinations once a year. They must also learn to monitor their blood glucose.
Question: Which preventative measures against diabetes are recommended?
Answer: The most important preventative measure is to implement lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, exercising regularly and going for regular checkups at your medical professional.
Question: Which medications are available for treating diabetes?
Answer: Minimising any elevation of blood sugar/glucose without causing abnormally low levels of blood sugar is the major goal in treating diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is treated with exercise, a diabetic diet and insulin while type 2 diabetes is initially treated with weight reduction, a diabetic diet and exercise. If this treatment fails, oral medication is prescribed and treatment with insulin is considered if the oral medication does not improve the situation. Insulin is inactivated by the digestive enzymes in the gut and cannot be taken by mouth; it is most commonly given as an injection under the skin, usually into the thigh, buttocks, abdomen or upper arm.
Question: What are the essentials for a diabetic?
Answer: Some of the essentials for a diabetic include blood glucose meters (glucometers), ketone strip, diabetes identification card, glucose source, healthy snacks, correct footwear, log books and glucagon injections.
Question: What are the long-term effects of diabetes?
Answer: After many years, diabetes can lead to other serious health problems such as eye problems, feet and skin developing sores and infections, and even amputations. Diabetes makes it harder to control your blood pressure and cholesterol, which leads to heart attacks and strokes. Nerves in the body become damaged which, in turn, lead to problems digesting food. High blood sugar may lead to kidney damage.