Living with Diabetes - World Diabetes Day 2017

India, which is often known as “The Diabetes Capital of the World” ranks 3rd in the list of nations with the highest number of people living with diabetes.  The statistics for diabetes in India are significantly alarming with more than 63 million people suffering from the condition. Out of the 63 million people living with diabetes, around 30 million are estimated to be undiagnosed and untreated for this disease. Around the world, diabetes is known to affect more than 380 million people. While the present data for this disease is already worrisome, WHO has estimated that diabetes deaths are likely to double between 2016 and 2030. So what precisely is this disease that is posing a health threat to millions of people worldwide? Diabetes is a condition where there is an elevated concentration of sugar in the blood chronically. This can happen when the body’s insulin production is inadequate or when the body’s cells are unable to respond to the insulin being produced. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas depending upon the blood sugar concentration.  The causes of diabetes depend upon family history, genetics, lifestyle choices, health as well as the environment. The common symptoms associated with diabetes include fatigue, frequent urination, constant thirst, slow healing of wounds, numbness or tingling of extremities, blurry vision as well as the sudden loss of weight. Even more perplexing is that it is also possible that a person suffering from diabetes may not present any of the classical symptoms at all. A general blood test can be used to effectively diagnose the condition of diabetes. In case, diabetes goes undetected and progresses without treatment and monitoring, it can lead to other serious complications such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy, hypertension, hearing loss, gastroparesis, chronic kidney disease and risk of stroke. The disease is split into two strands, namely;
  • Type 1 Diabetes – This type of diabetes is less common, with only about 10% of the people with diabetes having Type 1 diabetes. It mainly affects children and young people. In this condition, the body is unable to produce insulin and are required to routinely monitor their blood glucose levels and take insulin injections for the rest of their life.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – About 90% of all cases of diabetes that are diagnosed are type 2 diabetes. The number of people living with type 2 diabetes is estimated to be more than fifty million. Furthermore, India has more people living with type 2 diabetes than any other country in the world. In this strand of diabetes, the body is unable to produce enough insulin, or the insulin is not being utilized/ absorbed by the body properly. Along with insulin resistance, the body may also experience the release of suboptimal insulin by the pancreas. The symptoms may be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle but the disease is usually progressive in nature. Excessive body weight and not performing enough physical activities are some of the main causes of Type 2 Diabetes.
Importance of Monitoring Blood Glucose levels Testing blood for the concentration of glucose is an important step in the management of diabetes. By routinely monitoring blood glucose levels, a patient can plan and regularize their diet, medications, and activities to maintain a moderate blood glucose level closest. Regular testing of blood glucose levels enables a person to monitor how the diet, medications, and exercise is impacting the blood glucose levels. Moreover, routine monitoring can ensure that the blood levels are near the normal range of 70 to 120 mg/dl before meals and under 140 mg/dl after eating. Testing blood for glucose concentrations is crucial because:
  1. It helps to observe substantial differences the diet, exercise, and medications prescribed by the physician are making to the blood sugar concentrations.
  2. It helps to prevent sudden dangerously low or high levels of blood glucose concentrations.
  3. It is useful in recording patterns of increase or decrease in blood glucose and helps the physician realize the cause.
  4. The patient’s daily routine can be altered to get better results after monitoring the progress.
  5. Improvement in blood glucose levels with a change in diet and exercise will motivate patients to keep working on their health
There are many types of devices and brands available in the market which allow for accurate and rapid testing of blood glucose levels. How to choose the right blood Glucose Monitors, Test Strips and Lancets A blood glucose monitor, test strips and lancets should be purchased after keeping the following parameters in mind;
  1. Accuracy – Select a blood glucose meter that meets the standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
  2. The pain of testing – Some glucometers are designed to be less painful.
  3. Ease of use – A blood glucose monitor must be easy to use and operate for the patient.
  4. Ability to save and transmit information – Choose a Blood Glucose meter with the technology to record and transmit the blood glucose levels. Keeping a record helps the physician recommend the best way to manage blood sugar levels.
  5. Cost of strips – Test strips could easily add to the overall cost of the blood glucose monitor hence it’s important to consider the cost of strips before selecting the monitoring device.
  6. Additional features – Technologically advanced blood glucose monitors have features like backlit screen, storage, and USB connectors. They can also test Ketone and carbohydrate concentrations in the blood along with blood glucose.
  7. Recommendation of physician – A physician may recommend a certain glucometer that can be easily sourced along with its testing strips either online or in local medical shops.
Life with Diabetes Diabetes cannot be cured – it can only be effectively managed & controlled. By having an active lifestyle, making conscious dietary choices, maintaining body weight, and regularly monitoring blood glucose levels the condition can be managed to lead a normal and healthy life. With careful and vigilant supervision, Diabetes can be controlled to prevent any complications while the patient can lead an active life. The prognosis of diabetes is dependent on how well the disease can be controlled – It is therefore imperative that the blood glucose of a diabetic patient is regularly monitored and the results and patterns are diagnosed routinely with the physician to come up with a sustainable plan to keep diabetes under control.