On 7th April 1948, the World Health Organisation was founded. Hence since 1950, 7th April is celebrated as the “World Health Day”. This day is an opportunity to draw the world’s attention to a subject of superior importance in the global health. It is celebrated in order to raise awareness about health and related issues. WHO celebrates World Health Day by selecting a theme primarily focusing on an existing global health problem .This year the theme of the World Health Day is “Halt the Rise, Beat diabetes”!!
Diabetes is a non communicable disease that has been on the rise in many countries since last few decades. It is affecting millions of people especially in the developing countries. According to the statistics, 9% of the adult population in today’s world is suffering from diabetes. 1.5 million People die every year due to diabetes and its complications. With more than 50 million patients, India has already become the capital of Diabetes in the world. The number is said to double by 2030 if it is not addressed on a national platform in an aggressive manner.
Diabetes is a metabolic and multi factorial disease which is chronic in nature i.e. it takes a long duration to develop. In Diabetes, the blood sugar levels are constantly high over a period of time. Insulin is the hormone that controls the levels of sugar in the blood. These high levels of sugar occur either when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or when the body is unable to use the insulin that it has been producing.
Types and symptoms of diabetes:
Type 1: In this type, there is decreased or no production of insulin hormone in the body. The causes of this type are not known. The person may experience symptoms like increased urine frequency, increased thirst, feeling hungry all the time, weight loss and fatigue. Some also may complain of vision changes.
Type 2: This is a more common type of Diabetes. Almost 90% people suffering from Diabetes have type 2 diabetes. In this type, the insulin production is normal but the body cannot utilise this insulin effectively. The patient may experience symptoms similar to Type1 diabetes but their intensity is very much low in comparison. And it might be years before it is diagnosed when the complications start to show up. Lifestyle issues like physical inactivity and obesity are the most common causes of Type 2 diabetes. The rising incidence of Type 2 diabetes in children is an alarming sign for the future.
It is relatively very easy and cost effective to detect diabetes. Fasting and after lunch blood sugar tests will reveal the sugar levels in the blood. HBA1c is a test to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes. It checks the past 3 months sugar levels in the red blood cells. Impaired glucose tolerance test can identify the people on the verge of developing diabetes. Though they are highly likely to develop the disease, it’s not a foregone conclusion if proper preventive measures are taken.
Complications of Diabetes:
- Increase the risk of Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Nerve damage
- Ulcers on the foot
- Blindness due to retinopathy of the eye
Diabetes is although not curable, it’s definitely treatable and preventable. Simple lifestyle measures can alter the progression or even the development of Type 2 diabetes. Following are few recommendations to prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Physical activity in the form of exercise every day for minimum of half an hour
- Have a square healthy diet without too much sugar and fat intake (junk food and sugary drinks)
- Avoid tobacco smoking
Other medical interventions like regular blood testing, eye examination to rule out retinopathy, blood cholesterol levels, and kidney function tests can be undertaken for early diagnosis and prompt treatment of diabetes.
In Type 1 diabetes, insulin (available in only injectable form) is the only definitive treatment where as Type 2 Diabetes can be controlled with oral medications in the early stages of the disease.
Diabetes is not only a global health issue but has also become a cause for tangible economic loss to the patients and their families. This in turn also increases s the burden of healthcare systems of a country. It has an impact on the national economy as well in the form of increased medical costs and loss of workdays and wages.
On the occasion of World Health Day, let’s get committed to bring a change in our lifestyles in order to avoid the occurrence of diabetes.