Stop! Think Diabetes. Now Choose Wisely
12-Nov-2014.By: Elsie Osho
Many people have wrong notion of “diabetes as an illness suffered by only the
elderly in the society. Some even think Diabetes is peculiar to the elite few.
Maybe this would have been correct many years back; but today diabetes can occur
in anyone. Strange but true. Diabetes is nearly four times as common as all types
of the popular cancer we hear about, combined. It is fast becoming the 21st century's
major public-health concern.
An average Nigerian, mostly the working class hardly have time for healthy food
all in the name of being too busy for healthy home-made food. They stop by at the
eatery to buy a snack and cold beverage because they are too hungry to wait for
the proper or suitable food. This is repeated the next day, same the following
day; and so the routine continues without noticing they have unconsciously chosen
a pattern of eating that is very unhealthy.
There’s no crime in enjoying yourself with delightful, often times expensive,
snacks and pastries from the eateries, but what happens when you do this too often
for comfort? Let me help you answer the question. You are opening yourself up to
a sort of illness that comes as a result of living maybe expensive but unhealthy
and careless life. The kind of illness that come as a result of unhealthy living
are; Coronary Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, Obesity,
More than 50% of sickness experienced today is as a result of unhealthy diet and
lifestyle over time. Diabetes can be hereditary, however, people who have close
relatives with the disease are somewhat more likely to develop it as well. The
risk of developing diabetes also increases as people grow older. People who are
over 40 and overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, although the incidence
of type 2 diabetes in adolescents is growing.
Recent statistics from World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Diabetes
Federation (IDF) which reported a global estimate of 347 million people living
with Diabetes, with 19.8 million people from Africa. According to IDF 2013 report,
Nigeria has the highest number of people with diabetes in Africa, with 3.9 million
cases and 4.9% national prevalence rate.
Diabetes is known as a silent disease. Its symptoms are often ignored in the initial
stages. In diabetes, blood sugar levels are elevated. If blood sugar levels
are not controlled for prolonged periods of time, it could lead to severe diabetes complications.
This could include damage to important bodily functions.Diabetes complications
are usually a result of years of uncontrolled and poorly managed diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce
enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
This leads to an abnormally high level of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia).
Hyperglycaemia or raised blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes
and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially
the nerves and blood vessels, leading to irreversible blindness, stroke, kidney
failure, erectile dysfunction, limb amputation etc.
Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent or childhood-onset diabetes)
is characterized by a lack of insulin production; while Type 2 diabetes (formerly
called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes) is caused by the body’s ineffective
use of insulin. It often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity.
Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia that is first recognized during pregnancy.
Some Diabetes signs appear like the regular feeling we have when stressed while
some are not, such as; Frequent thirst, Frequent urination, Fatigue, Blurred vision,
Tingling or pain in the hands, Tingling or pain feet and/or legs. Diabetes attacks
delicate and major organs in our body like our heart, eyes, kidney, feet, nerves…
Heart-There is a close relation between poorly managed diabetes and heart
disease. In fact, cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in diabetics.
Research also suggests that people with type-2 diabetes are 2-4 times more likely
to have a stroke and heart disease, compared to people who do not have diabetes.
Diabetescan lead to high blood pressure and is believed to be linked with high
levels of cholesterol, which significantly increases a person’s risk of getting
a heart attack.
Kidneys- Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure. Prolonged periods
of high blood sugar levels can damage the tiny filtering units within the
kidney leading to kidney failure. People with diabeteshave a higher risk of kidney
disease called nephropathy. The first signs of kidney damage are high levels of
protein in the urine. This could be followed by symptoms of fatigue, headache,
vomiting, nausea and fluid retention.
Eyes- Diabetes can affect the nerves of the eye. High levels of blood sugar can
cause damage to the blood vessels in the eye. This can lead to formation of new
blood vessels in the eye. However, the new blood vessels that are formed are weak
and can easily leak or burst fluid. This medical condition is known as diabetic
retinopathy. Early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy can help in restoring normal
vision by allowing for treatment with laser surgery.
Nerve Damage-The effect of diabetes on the nerves is a serious issue. This
is because nerves play an important role in the coordination of important bodily
functions. High levels of blood sugar can damage nerves and result in neuropathy.
Signs of nerve damage would involve feeling of numbness or tingling in the feet
or hands, delayed stomach emptying and problems with blood circulation (frequent
Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves of the feet. This can lead to decreased
sensation in the feet. This decrease in sensation could pose a big problem. A diabetic
may not feel a cut or a sore in the feet. Also, damage to the nerves in the feet
could also mean that your foot would now get less of oxygen and blood. Thus, it
takes more time for your feet to heal. This is known as diabetic foot.
Complications during pregnancy-Elevated levels of blood sugar during pregnancy can
contribute to the weight of the fetus. This could lead to problems during delivery.
Also, children who are exposed to high blood sugar levels in the womb are
at an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Mouth- Glucose is present in your saliva—the fluid in your mouth that makes
it wet. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help
harmful bacteria grow. These bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky
film called plaque. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or
starches. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque
cause gum disease and bad breath.
Last Updated: 13-Jul-2017 10:09 AM