The month of November marks World Diabetes Month, a globally-celebrated event that increases awareness about diabetes. This year’s theme “Family and Diabetes” focusses on raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on families. It promotes the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of the condition.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and WHO estimated that diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2016.
One in two people currently living with diabetes are undiagnosed and the vast majority of these have type 2 diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to helping prevent or delay life-threatening complications. If type 1 diabetes is not detected early, it can lead to serious disability or death. Know the signs and symptoms to protect yourself and your family.
“Diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. However people with diabetes can live long, healthy lives with good disease management. It requires not only management of blood glucose (glycaemia) levels but also risk factors for complications such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can be controlled with a healthy diet, regular physical activity and the correct use of medication as prescribed by a health provider”, says Sibonile Dube, Head of Communications and Public Affairs, at Novartis.
Some of the different types of diabetes and potential associated symptoms:
Type 1 diabetes is usually caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defense system attacks the cells that produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin. The disease may affect people of any age, but usually develops in children or young adults. People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin to control the levels of glucose in their blood. Access to insulin is therefore absolutely crucial for people with type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes: unplanned weight loss; nausea and vomiting.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, and accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes. The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can occur at any age and may remain undetected for many years and the diagnosis is often made when a complication appears, or a routine blood or urine glucose test is done. It is often, but not always, associated with being overweight or obese, which itself can contribute to insulin resistance and lead to high blood glucose levels. People with type 2 diabetes can often initially manage their condition through exercise and diet. However, over time, most people will require oral drugs and/ or insulin.
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes: type 2 diabetes is frequently not associated with any symptoms but some patients may experience increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue or blurred vision.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes characterised by 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 but women with GDM and their children are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.
Symptoms of Gestational diabetes: High blood sugar during pregnancy usually has no symptoms. You might feel a little thirstier than normal or have to pee more often.
Treatment of diabetes involves diet and physical activity along with blood glucose control, blood pressure control, foot care, screening and treatment for retinopathy and screening and treatment of diabetes-related kidney disease. Family support in diabetes care has been shown to have a substantial effect on improving health outcomes for people with diabetes.