For about 425 million people around the world, Diabetes Mellitus is bad news. The disease if left untreated could result in lifelong conditions, including amputations of the limb, however, there are 1.6 million people who die from the disease, every year.
Every year on November 14, the United Nations celebrates World Diabetes Day, this year, the theme is: The Family and Diabetes. Today, throughout the world, people are raising awareness about the impact of this disease on the family and the role of the family in the management, care, prevention, and education of diabetes.
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease that occurs when the body cannot produce the required amount of insulin or efficiently use the insulin it produces says the World Health Organisation (WHO). This condition is referred to as Type 1 and Type 2 respectively.
Africa has had a large share of the disease, in 2015, it was the 6th leading cause of death in lower and middle-income countries and has infected about 25 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2014, a huge rise from four million infected in 1980.
In Nigeria, almost two million people are currently suffering from Diabetes, this year, the focus is on the family and the level of support it could provide for those suffering from the disease. If gotten right, the bad news can become good news.
Diabetes Concerns Every family
Over 425 million people are currently living with diabetes. Most of these cases are type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable through regular physical activity, a healthy and balanced diet, and the promotion of healthy living environments. Families have a key role to play in addressing the modifiable risk factors for type 2 diabetes and must be provided with the education, resources, and environments to live a healthy lifestyle.
1 in 2 people currently living with diabetes is undiagnosed. Most cases are type 2 diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing the complications of the disease and achieving healthy outcomes. All families are potentially affected by diabetes and so the awareness of the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for all types of the disease is vital to help detect it early.
Diabetes is bad because it can be expensive for the individual and family. In many countries, the cost of insulin injection and daily monitoring alone can consume half of a family’s average disposable income, and regular and affordable access to essential diabetes medicines are out of reach for too many. Improving access to affordable diabetes medicines and care is, therefore, urgent to avoid increased costs for the individual and family, which impact health outcomes.
The good news is that less than 1 in 4 family members have access to diabetes education programmes. Family support in diabetes care has been shown to have a substantial effect on improving health outcomes for people with diabetes. It is therefore important that ongoing diabetes self-management education and support be accessible to all people with diabetes and their families to reduce the emotional impact of the disease that can result in a negative quality of life.
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- Simple therapy for Diabetes
- Management of type 2 diabetes includes:
- Healthy eating
- Regular exercise
- Possibly, diabetes medication or insulin therapy
- Blood sugar monitoring
- These steps will help keep your blood sugar level closer to normal, which can delay or prevent complications.
- Healthy eating
- Contrary to popular perception, there’s no specific diabetes diet. However, it’s important to centre your diet on these high-fibre, low-fat foods:
- Whole grains
What You Can Do.
Low glycemic index foods also may be helpful. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes a rise in your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index raise your blood sugar quickly. Low glycemic index foods may help you achieve a more stable blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index typically are foods that are higher in fibre.
Everyone needs regular aerobic exercise, and people who have type 2 diabetes are no exception. Get your doctor’s OK before you start an exercise program. Then choose activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming and biking. What’s most important is making physical activity part of your daily routine.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days of a week. Stretching and strength training exercises are important, too. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly and build up gradually.
Monitoring Your Blood Sugar
Depending on your treatment plan, you may need to check and record your blood sugar level every now and then or, if you’re on insulin, multiple times a day. Ask your doctor how often he or she wants you to check your blood sugar. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range.
Sometimes, blood sugar levels can be unpredictable. With help from your diabetes treatment team, you’ll learn how your blood sugar level changes in response to food, exercise, alcohol, illness, and medication.
Some people who have type 2 diabetes can achieve their target blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, but many also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy. The decision about which medications are best depends on many factors, including your blood sugar level and any other health problems you have. Your doctor might even combine drugs from different classes to help you control your blood sugar in several different ways.
Examples of possible treatments for type 2 diabetes
Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others). Generally, metformin is the first medication prescribed for type 2 diabetes. It works by improving the sensitivity of your body tissues to insulin so that your body uses insulin more effectively.
Sulfonylureas. These medications help your body secrete more insulin. Examples of medications in this class include glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase), glipizide (Glucotrol), and glimepiride (Amaryl). Possible side effects include low blood sugar and weight gain.
Meglitinides. These medications work like sulfonylureas by stimulating the pancreas to secrete more insulin, but they’re faster acting, and the duration of their effect in the body is shorter. They also have a risk of causing low blood sugar, but this risk is lower than with sulfonylureas.
Weight gain is a possibility with this class of medications as well. Examples include repaglinide (Prandin) and nateglinide (Starlix).
Thiazolidinediones. Like metformin, these medications make the body’s tissues more sensitive to insulin. This class of medications has been linked to weight gain and other more-serious side effects, such as an increased risk of heart failure and fractures. Because of these risks, these medications generally aren’t the first-choice treatment.
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