Today,14th November 2023 is celebrated globally as World Diabetes day. Public Health Education is one of the key interventions in every disease control process. What at all is diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic health condition characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. It occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and allows glucose to enter cells for energy. There are three main types of diabetes:
1. Type 1 Diabetes: This type occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It typically develops in childhood or adolescence and requires lifelong insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump.
2. Type 2 Diabetes: This type is the most common form of diabetes and usually develops in adulthood, although it is increasingly seen in younger individuals due to lifestyle factors. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed through lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, regular physical activity, and sometimes oral medications or insulin.
3. Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually resolves after childbirth. It affects pregnant women who have high blood sugar levels but no prior history of diabetes. Gestational diabetes requires careful monitoring and management to ensure the health of both the mother and baby.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to various complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, eye problems, and an increased risk of infections. Therefore, it is crucial to manage diabetes effectively through a combination of medication (if necessary), healthy eating, regular physical activity, blood sugar monitoring, and regular medical check-ups.
Prevention and management of diabetes involve:
1. Healthy Eating: Consuming a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while limiting the intake of sugary and processed foods.
2. Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, to help maintain a healthy weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and manage blood sugar levels.
3. Blood Sugar Monitoring: Regularly checking blood sugar levels to ensure they are within the target range and making adjustments to medication, diet, or physical activity as necessary.
4. Medication and Insulin: Some individuals with diabetes may require oral medications, injectable medications, or insulin to help manage blood sugar levels effectively.
5. Education and Support: Seeking education and support from healthcare professionals, diabetes educators, and support groups can provide valuable information, guidance, and motivation for managing diabetes effectively.
It is important to note that diabetes is a complex condition, and treatment plans may vary for each individual. Regular communication with healthcare professionals is crucial to ensure personalized care and effective management of diabetes. If you suspect you have diabetes or have concerns about your blood sugar levels, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance.
There is a need to highlight testing and diagnosis as a key step in the fight against all forms of diabetes. Below are some tests you can request:
- A1C Test: The A1C test measures your average blood sugar level over the past 2 or 3 months. An A1C below 5.7% is normal, between 5.7 and 6.4% indicates you have prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher indicates you have diabetes.
- Fasting Blood Sugar Test: This measures your blood sugar after an overnight fast (not eating). A fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal, 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes
- Glucose Tolerance Test: This measures your blood sugar before and after you drink a liquid that contains glucose. You’ll fast (not eat) overnight before the test and have your blood drawn to determine your fasting blood sugar level. Then you’ll drink the liquid and have your blood sugar level checked 1 hour, 2 hours, and possibly 3 hours afterward. At 2 hours, a blood sugar level of 140 mg/dL or lower is considered normal, 140 to 199 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes
- Random Blood Sugar Test: This measures your blood sugar at the time you’re tested. You can take this test at any time and don’t need to fast (not eat) first. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes
Remember, with proper management and lifestyle changes, individuals with diabetes can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Diabetes is not a death sentence. It is a condition that can be managed. Walk to a Medical Facility near you for your sugar level(Fasting Blood Sugar Preferred) to be checked. It is the first and most crucial step as we celebrate world diabetes day.
Dr. Divine Kabutey Agyemang Lardey
Email: [email protected]