World Diabetes Day this Thursday the 14th of November helps highlight the facts about diabetes care and prevention. We at Sidra thought you’d like to know the facts.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when your body stores too much glucose in your blood because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas is not producing any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter your body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
There are three main types of diabetes:
• Type 1 diabetes usually caused by an auto-immune reaction when the body’s defense system attacks the cells that produce insulin. It can affect people of any age, but usually develops in children or young adults. People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood. Without access to insulin, they will die.
• Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for at least 90% of all cases. It is characterized by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency, either or both of which may be present at the time diabetes is diagnosed. This can occur at any age. Type 2 diabetes may remain undetected for many years. It can be connected with being overweight, which itself can cause insulin resistance.
• Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes consisting of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It develops in one in 25 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with complications to both mother and baby. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems – such as consistently high blood glucose levels, which leads to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth. People with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing infections. In almost all high-income countries, diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputation.
The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched but we do know that having a family member with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk of developing the disease.
Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes:
• Family history of diabetes
• Unhealthy diet
• Physical inactivity
• Increasing age
• High blood pressure
• Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)
• History of gestational diabetes
• Poor nutrition during pregnancy
The development of type 1 diabetes is usually sudden and dramatic, while the symptoms can often be mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes, making this type of diabetes hard to detect.
• Frequent urination
• Excessive thirst
• Increased hunger
• Weight loss
• Lack of interest and concentration
• A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
• Blurred vision
• Frequent infections
• Slow-healing wounds
• Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)
At present, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. However, there is a lot of evidence that lifestyle changes, a healthy body weight and physical activity, can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
The Action on Diabetes (AoD) initiative in Qatar will, within the first few months of 2014, launch a special mobile app which will help residents calculate their risk factors for getting diabetes. Action on Diabetes is helping the Qatari authorities tackle the rise of diabetes in Qatar by raising awareness and helping initiate lifestyle changes.