Diabetes Quick Facts Overview
- People living with a diabetes are at a high risk of serious complications and even death if diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Globally more than 422 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes and this figure is expected to rise to over 550 million by 2030.In the U.S More than 34 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, and another 4 million live with diabetes in the UK.1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it.
- Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States according to WHO.
- Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; Type 1 diabetes only accounts for approximately 10%.
- People with diabetes are twice as likely to have, heart disease or stroke, Chronic Kidney Disease and High Blood Pressure compared to people without diabetes.
- Medical and maintenance costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people who don’t have diabetes.
- People with diabetes can live a normal healthy life by ensuring regular doctor appointments,maintaining a healthy diet and nutrition, exercising regularly and stress management.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease caused by high blood sugar, commonly known as high blood glucose. The body cells and muscles require energy to function properly. Diabetes takes place due to the fact that the body cannot use glucose properly, either owing to a loss of the hormone insulin or because the available insulin does not work effectively causing too much glucose to build up in the blood.Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood glucose by moving it to the body cells and muscles for energy.
How is Blood Glucose Measured to Determine Diabetes?
After a meal, food is broken down to glucose which then concentrates in the blood ready for use by the cells for energy. The weight of glucose in a specific volume of blood is what would be considered a measure of blood sugar. This is done using a blood sugar testing metre. In the U.S the measure is in milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) while other countries use Millimoles Per Litre (mmol/L).
People without diabetes have normal blood glucose levels between 3.9 and 7.1 mmol/L (70 to 130 mg/dL) before taking any meal in the morning, commonly referred to as fasting blood sugar. Any numbers above that is considered prediabetes or diabetes. Readings may keep changing throughout the day. People living with diabetes are advised to keep testing, at least before every meal, to determine their numbers and take control in order to avoid diabetes related complications.
Poorly controlled diabetes causes many health and financial related problems to people living with diabetes and their care givers. According to WHO more than 422 million people live with diabetes globally. It’s estimated that America has about 34.2 million people living with diabetes or at risk of getting diabetes, while Diabetes UK estimates about 4 million of the population in UK are living with diabetes or are at a higher risk of getting diabetes.
People living with diabetes should take extra caution and ensure they manage their diabetes properly. Uncontrolled blood sugar over a long period of time is the major cause of diabetes related health complications, that could otherwise be avoided. Regular doctor visits are paramount to preventing elevated blood sugars and ensure any possible diabetes complications are spotted early enough. Below are some common complications;
- Diabetes related Eating disorders and GERD
- Hypoglycemia (Low blood Sugars)
- Heart Disease and stroke
- Nerve damage and neuropathy due to high blood sugars and uncontrolled diabetes.
- Foot diseases and amputations due to diabetic wounds.
- Vision Problems and cataracts
- Chronic Kidney Disease and UTI’s
- Sexual disorders
- Alzheimer’s Disease.
- High Blood Pressure
Common Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system destroys the insulin secreting beta cells of the pancreas making the body unable to regulate the body’s blood glucose. This leads to high blood sugars (hypoglycemia) in the blood which if not treated may lead to death.
Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age unlike the popular misconception that it’s diagnosed in children (Juvenile diabetes). It is commonly referred to as Insulin dependent diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, one needs to administer insulin in order to live. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin therapy such as use of insulin flexi pens, insulin pumps and syringes. This can be done at the stomach, the upper part of the hand, leg thighs or buttocks.
- Need to keep drinking water due to frequent thirst.
- Frequent urination that sometimes disturbs the quality of sleep.
- Tiredness during the day which sometimes affects productivity.
- Having unexplained weight loss and loss of muscle.
Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed by checking for Ketones in urine or blood, GAD autoantibodies tests or performing a C- peptide test to determine the presence of antibodies.
Lifespan and Diabetes Management for People Living with Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is not a death sentence. Many people have lived with the condition since childhood and are now at their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Management of this type of diabetes require discipline and a positive outlook of life. Simple daily rituals will go along way to ensuring a good quality, long and healthy life.
Ritual 1. Accept that being diagnosed with diabetes Type 1 is not your fault. It’s an autoimmune disorder, maybe genetic or just a virus that messed up issues. Stay Positive! There are many great things in life and better days ahead.
Ritual 2. Ensure you control your diabetes by checking your blood sugar regularly and administering your insulin as per the doctor’s advice. Never miss to check your blood sugar levels. Remember, what you measure you control it better.
Ritual 3: Keep your diet and nutrition healthy. Diabetes diet is not special diet. It’s the right diet. Consult your doctor and nutritionist on what works best for you.
Ritual 4: Keep moving. Do moderate exercise. Good exercise for people with diabetes is at least 30 minutes per day (150 minutes per week). Take caution to keep monitoring your blood sugar before and after exercise to avoid unnecessary lows.
Ritual 5: Never miss a doctor’s appointment. Regular appointments will arrest and save you from diabetes health complications.
Ritual 6: Meditate and manage your stress.
Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results when the pancreas produces insulin that is not well utilised by the body, a condition also known as insulin resistance or when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin require to move glucose to the cells and muscles of the body. Type 2 diabetes causes accumulation of too much glucose in the blood leading to hypoglycaemia (high blood glucose) which over a prolonged duration of time destroys body organs.
It’s estimated that of all diabetes diagnosis, 90% of all those cases are Type 2 diabetes making it the most common form of diabetes with over 370 million people being diagnosed globally.
People living with type 2 diabetes cannot metabolise sugar, starches, carbohydrates, dairy and some fruits properly.
When detected early, type 2 diabetes can be put to remission with proper diet, exercise and medications. Avoiding too much carbohydrates, simple sugars, and processed foods has been proven to help people living with type 2 diabetes manage the condition better while avoiding long term complications.
Who gets Type 2 Diabetes?
Anyone can get type 2 diabetes. A while ago it was mostly prevalent among the middle age and older populations, but today the statistics are different as more and more teenagers and young adults are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Developing countries and low incoming countries are showing an increase in this numbers to what may be attributed to poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles which are the two main causes of type 2 diabetes. In the U.S, the African American community and other people of colour are more prevalent compared to getting type 2 diabetes compared to any other population.
- Blurred vision which may affect driving
- Frequency in urination and dehydration.
- Hunger pangs causing too much feeding
- Tiredness and feelings of sluggishness
- Discomfort due to numbness or tingling of the feet and or hands
- Diabetic wounds that heal slowly
- Losing muscles and weight loss.
- Poor nutrition causing inflammation.
- Being obese
- Physical inactivity and living sedentary lifestyle.
- Insulin resistance and poor metabolism of carbohydrates.
- Genetic predisposition
Lifespan and management of type 2 diabetes.
People living with type 2 diabetes can live a healthy quality and fulfilling life. This is only possible if they take urgent measures to mitigate against the impact of unhealthy lifestyle choices by applying known interventions that are helpful to keeping diabetes at bay as below;
- Regular monitoring of blood glucose
- Staying hydrated
- Being friends with your diabetes doctor
- Avoiding unhealthy habits such as taking alcohol and smoking
- Maintaining a good healthy body weight
- Engaging in physical activities and regular exercises
- Observing good diet and nutrition
- Taking medicine as prescribed by your doctor
- Meditating and staying positive
Poorly managed diabetes can shorten the lifespan of a person living with diabetes with up to 20 years compared to a normal person without diabetes. In some cases, it can cause sudden death resulting from cardiovascular issues, stroke or Chronic Kidney diseases.
The most common drug treatments for type 2 diabetes include:
- Metformin which is the most common prescribed diabetes medication.
- Some people may also progress to insulin injections to better manage their diabetes.
Prediabetes is a metabolic condition majorly as a result of insulin resistance and obesity. It is also known as borderline diabetes as it’s characterised by slightly elevated blood glucose above what is considered normal but not fully blown type 2 diabetes. If not diagnosed and managed early, it can progress to type 2 diabetes.
Interventions such as dietary and nutritional changes and physical exercises have been proven to slow the progression of prediabetes to full blown type 2 diabetes and sometimes even reversing it.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy mostly in the third trimester (weeks 24-28) then disappears after childbirth. What it typically means is high blood sugar during pregnancy with the normal diabetes symptoms showing.
Most mothers develop anxiety when diagnosed with gestational diabetes due to the uncertainty it presents at birth. However, about 5 % of all pregnancies are coupled with gestational diabetes globally. Doctors have perfected the management of gestational diabetes and it’s not in any way a risk to either the mother or the child if well managed.
Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes should stay close to their doctors to help them manage the condition. In most of the cases, it can be managed by diet and exercise and only in special cases does it progress to require insulin.
Most women who get gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Type 1.5 Diabetes (LADA)
Type 1.5 diabetes also called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) is a form of type 1 diabetes that also shares other common characteristics with type 2 diabetes.
Type 1.5 diabetes is diagnosed later in life like the slow onset type 2 diabetes. Those who get type 1.5 diabetes will require insulin therapy to help manage their blood glucose.
Key Points to Note on Diabetes Management
- Maintain a healthy weight in order to win the battle with diabetes.
- Exercise and keep moving.30 minutes of exercise or physical activity is a plus to proper management of diabetes.
- Proper diet and nutrition are the best bets for managing diabetes. Eat healthy nutritious foods. Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Meditate and stay positive. Keep stress at bay.
- Be curious, read and research more on how best to manage diabetes.
- Your doctor is your best friend. Always Consult! Keep regular visits and use his/her professionalism to conquer diabetes.
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website. cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf External link (PDF, 1.3 MB) . Updated July, 18 2017. Accessed April 16, 2020.
- The Diabetes UK website. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-symptoms.html. Accessed April 16, 2020
- The WHO “Global report on diabetes” provides an overview of the diabetes burden, the interventions available to prevent and manage diabetes, and recommendations for governments, individuals, the civil society and the private sector. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes Accessed April 16, 2020