Diabetes: Silent epidemic


The World Diabetes Day is celebrated on the November 14, the day on which Fredrick Banting was born. Banting together with Charles Best invented the process for insulin in 1922. The World Diabetic Federation started celebrating the day from 1991 through its 199 association members in 155 countries. The slogan for this year’s Diabetes Day is ‘Put feet first, prevent amputation’ as every 30 seconds one leg is amputated in the world, out of which 70 per cent is the result of diabetes. It is estimated that the number of people suffering from diabetes around the world would double to 366 million in the next 10 years.

What is diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Major types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes: This type results from the body’s failure to produce insulin.

Type 2 diabetes: This type results from a condition in which the body fails to use insulin properly.

Gestational diabetes: This type develops during pregnancy and becomes normal afterwards.

Some diabetes symptoms include:

• Frequent urination

• Excessive thirst

• Extreme hunger

• Unusual weight loss

• Increased fatigue

• Blurred vision

What leads to diabetes?

Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. People having a history of diabetes in their family should plan and eat healthy meals and exercise regularly to manage

their weight. “The early detection of symptoms of diabetes and treatment can decrease the chance of developing complications of diabetes that include blindness, heart attack, kidney failure and amputation,” says Abani Bhushan Upadhyaya, chairman, Medicare National Hospital and Research Centre.

Link between diabetes and heart disease

“If you have diabetes, you are at high risk for having a heart attack or stroke. In fact, more than 50 per cent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke,” says Upadhyaya. Diabetes damages the blood vessel wall, narrowing down the veins making the blood supply less that causes heart attack. People with diabetes must think and act beyond diet and blood sugar control, but also manage blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce their chance for heart attacks and stroke.