Diabetes is finally being recognised as a global epidemic. It is estimated that currently diabetes affects some 382 million people worldwide. According to International Diabetes Federation, this figure is set to increase to 592 million by the year 2035. Diabetes is growing faster than predicted.
Diabetes in India
Diabetes has emerged as a major healthcare problem in India. According to Diabetes Atlas published by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there were an estimated 40 million persons with diabetes in India in 2007 and this number is predicted to rise to almost 70 million people by 2025. The countries with the largest number of diabetic people will be India, China and USA by 2030. It is estimated that every fifth person with diabetes will be an Indian.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disorder in which the body cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood. Just as a car is powered by petrol, the body is powered by glucose, which is extracted from food we eat. Insulin normally gets the glucose from the bloodstream to where it is needed in the cells (the body’s engines). In Diabetes body is unable to produce insulin or the body becomes resistance to insulin. In both the conditions the sugar level increases in the blood stream.
Diabetes is of three types – Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes also called insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes, is diagnosed when the pancreas stops making insulin. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas destroying the cells that make insulin. The pancreas then stops making insulin and the body cannot control the amount of glucose in the blood.
Type 2 diabetes also called non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus in which the body becomes resistant to insulin, meaning that there is insulin but it is not working very well. If this happens, the body cannot control the amount of glucose in the blood.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes consisting of 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.
Several risk factors have been associated with diabetes and include
- Family history of diabetes
- Unhealthy Diet
- Physical inactivity
- High Blood Pressure
- History of gestational diabetes
Individuals can experience different signs and symptoms of diabetes, and sometimes there may be no signs. Some of the signs commonly experienced include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirsts
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Tingling sensation or numbness in hands/feet
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections
- Slow-healing wounds
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems. Consistently high blood glucose levels can lead to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth.
Most people with diabetes will develop some form of eye disease causing reduced vision or blindness. Consistently high levels of blood glucose, together with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are the main causes of retinopathy. It can be managed through regular eye checks and keeping glucose and cholesterols levels at normal.
Affects the heart and blood vessels and may cause fatal complications such as coronary artery disease leading to heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in people with diabetes. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood glucose and other risk factors contribute to increasing the risk of cardiovascular complications.
Caused by damage to small blood vessels in the kidneys leading to the kidneys becoming less efficient or to fail altogether. Kidney disease is much more common in people with diabetes than in those without diabetes. Maintaining near normal levels of blood glucose and blood pressure can greatly reduce the risk of kidney disease.
Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves throughout the body. This can lead to problems with digestion, erectile dysfunction, and many other functions. Among the most commonly affected areas are the extremities, in particular the feet. Nerve damage in these areas is called peripheral neuropathy, and can lead to pain, tingling, and loss of feeling.
Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage. This can cause tingling, pain (burning or stinging), or weakness in the foot. It can also cause loss of feeling in the foot. Poor blood flow or changes in the shape of your feet or toes may also cause problems.