November is Diabetes Awareness Month

The month of November is recognised as Diabetes Awareness Month. It is the time to focus on creating awareness about the symptoms and causes of diabetes and how to reduce the chances of developing it. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in South Africa. It occurs when the pancreas can no longer make insulin, or when the body can’t use insulin that the body produces. Insulin acts as a key, which lets sugar (glucose) pass from the bloodstream into the cells to produce energy that is needed for bodily actions such as walking, reading, exercising and so on. Without insulin, or a lack thereof, our bodies are unable to convert glucose into energy for us to perform actions and also leaves too much glucose in the bloodstream which affects other areas in the body that can have severe consequences.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) report reveals that 4.5-million people aged between 21-79 are living with diabetes in South Africa. Diabetes is not the only primary concern as it is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. The following list will showcase the three main types of diabetes that can be contracted.

    Photo: Twitter

    Three main types of diabetes:

    Type 1 diabetes – occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. It usually starts in young people under the age of 30, including very young children and infants. People who have type 1 diabetes must inject insulin to survive. Insulin dosages are carefully balanced with food intake and exercise programmes.

    Type 2 diabetes – is caused when the insulin in the body, which the pancreas produces, is either not enough or does not work properly. Approximately 85 – 90% of all people with diabetes are type 2 and many people who have this condition are undiagnosed. Most of the people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are over the age of 40. They are usually overweight, overeat and do not exercise resulting in high glucose levels in the body. This creates an imbalance between the amount of glucose the body can absorb through the usual amount of insulin produced.

    Type 2 diabetes is often milder than type 1, but it can still cause major health complications, especially in the tiny blood vessels like the kidneys, nerves, and eyes. Type 2 also raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.Tablets may be prescribed to help improve and control diabetes type 2, however, many will eventually use insulin injections to keep their blood glucose levels under control.

    Gestational diabetes – is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. Both mother and child have an increased risk of developing diabetes in the future.This type of diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight before and after conception, eating well, and exercising regularly during pregnancy.The treatment for gestational diabetes depends on your blood glucose levels. It may include daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections.

      Photo: Global Diabetes Community

      Diabetes is the second-biggest killeir disease in South Africa, so it is critical for people to do diabetes screening in their local clinics or hospitals. Early diagnosis of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing diabetes-related complications. Sometimes people with diabetes may not have any symptoms until they are deathly ill and if the diabetes is unmonitored or untreated can cause a health risk.

      Source: Diabetes South Africa

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