Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia or raised blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled Diabetes as over time leads to serious damage to many of the body systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels. In 2014, 9% of adults 18 years and older had diabetes.In 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths. More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Types of Diabetes
Type1 Diabetes (previously known as insulin dependent, juvenile or childhood onset) is characterised by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause type1 Diabetes is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge.
Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes ( formerly called now insulin dependent or adult onset) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 Diabetes comprises 90% of people with Diabetes around the world. Symptoms may be similar to those of Type1 Diabetes, but often less marked. As a result, this disease may be diagnosed several years after the onset once complications have already risen. Until recently, this type of Diabetes was seen only in adults but now it is also occurring in children.
Gestational Diabetes is hyperglycaemia with blood glucose values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes, occurring during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. They are also at increased risk of type 2 Diabetes in the future. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed through prenatal screening, rather than reported symptoms.
What are common consequences of Diabetes?
Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidney and nerves.
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In a multinational study, 50% of people with Diabetes die of cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke).
Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the foot increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and the eventual need for limb amputation.
Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. One percent of global blindness can be attributed to Diabetes. Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure. The overall risk of dying among people with Diabetes is at least double the risk of their peers without diabetes.
How can the burden of Diabetes be reduced?
Simple lifestyle measures have shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 Diabetes. To prevent type 2 Diabetes and its complications, people should
- achieve and maintain healthy body weight.
- be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control.
- Eat a healthy diet of 3 to 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce sugar and saturated fats intake
- Avoid tobacco consumption