The World Health Organisation projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030, and current statistics from the International Diabetes Federation of Africa reveals that there were more than 1.56 million cases of diabetes in Nigeria in 2015.
In addition, the American Diabetes association has disclosed that diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose in the blood (blood sugar) is too high. The process of moving glucose (blood sugar) from the blood into the body’s cells relies on insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas, a gland lying behind the stomach).
When insulin levels are too low or ineffective (when the body is not responding to the insulin produced), blood sugar levels can rise. Summarily, a lack of insulin, or an inability to adequately respond to insulin, can lead to the development of the symptoms of diabetes mellitus.
The most common diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, intense thirst and hunger, weight gain (In pre-diabetes), unusual weight loss (In insulin-dependent diabetes), fatigue, cuts and bruises that do not heal quickly, male sexual dysfunction, numbness and tingling in hands and feet.
Many people first become aware that they have diabetes when they develop one of its potentially life-threatening complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure or blindness. If a person with diabetes has good control of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and does not smoke, the risk of complications will be much lower.
Diabetes mellitus can be classified into two types – Insulin-dependent or type 1 and non-insulin dependent or type 2.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce sufficient quantity of insulin. Hence, glucose just builds up in the blood but cannot be moved into the cells to be used by the body. The accumulated glucose in the blood is then ‘flushed’ out in the urine. Loss of glucose (energy) ultimately results in weight loss, which is characteristic of this type of diabetes. After treatment, a person usually returns to a healthy weight.
Treatment is usually by the administration of regular insulin injections to compensate for the body’s lack of insulin. That is why this type of diabetes is known as insulin-dependent diabetes.
The second form of diabetes is the type 2 diabetes. It is usually preceded by a stage called “Pre-diabetes”.
In pre-diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin but the cells of the body cannot use the insulin effectively. Overtime, the amount of blood sugar begins to rise because just a little sugar can get into the cells for use by the body.
The body is then tricked to believing that the cells are not getting enough glucose because insulin levels are low. So, the brain sends feedback to the pancreas to produce more insulin. Eventually, the pancreas can wear out from working overtime and may no longer be able to produce insulin.
At this point, diabetes (increase in blood sugar) sets in. This form of diabetes is known as type 2 diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes because it was not caused due to the absence of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes used to be common in the middle-aged and elderly, it rarely occurred in young people. But today, even children are being diagnosed with this form of diabetes. You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes if you maintain a healthy weight, eat well, and be active.
People with pre-diabetes can easily get overweight because their body cannot use the insulin effectively to take up glucose, and this tricks the body to believing that the lack of glucose is due to the absence of food in the body.
The body then increases the feeling of hunger so that more food can be consumed, and this overtime results in weight gain.
In addition, increased glucose levels cause the body to pull fluid from cells into the bloodstream and this results in an increased demand on the kidneys to pull out the excess fluid in the blood. This can overwork the kidneys and cause them to produce more urine than normal. Frequent urination, another common symptom, will then result in increased thirst.
If you have insulin resistance or diabetes, seek medical advice and strictly abide by your doctors recommendations. Please don’t skip medications.
Also, unlike some other diseases that rely primarily on professional medical treatment, diabetes treatment requires active participation by the person who has the condition. For this reason, monitoring your blood sugar level on a regular basis and analyzing the results is a crucial part of the treatment equation.
Blood sugar levels after eight hours fast is normal if your blood sugar is less than 100mg/dL, pre-diabetes if your blood sugar is 100-125mg/dL, diabetic if your blood sugar is 126mg/dL or higher on two separate tests. Anyone older than age 45 is advised to receive an initial blood sugar screening, and then, if the results are normal, to be screened every three years thereafter.
Diabetes is not synonymous to humans. According to public health veterinarian, Dr. Kikiope Oluwarore, signs of diabetes in animals are similar to humans. Dr. Oluwarore says, “Early signs of diabetes in a pet include, remarkable weight loss associated with a voracious appetite and insatiable thirst.