Watch out for the sweetness overload

Diabetes. It creeps up on us stealthily, takes us by surprise and then sticks to us like glue. No stranger to most of us, we all know of at least one person amongst us who’s fallen victim to the disease. We’ve heard of people who have succumbed to diabetes, those who’re managing it bravely and those who have suffered a lifestyle shift because of it.

Yet, in reality, there are few people who have adequate awareness regarding the disease, how to spot the early signs and how to manage it well. The International Diabetes Federation claims that 1 in 2 people are living with diabetes, yet they don’t know it. Statistically, that’s 50 percent of diabetic population that is unaware of its condition; and that too, a disease which – if not caught early – has potential to have a significant impact on other organs.

No less alarming are other finding by IDF which show that one in three parents would not be able to spot warning signs of diabetes in their children. The pattern is similar in the case of Type 2 diabetes, in which the signs are milder and which affects around 90 percent of diabetics.

No surprise then, that this year’s theme revolves around family and diabetes where the masses are urged to learn to recognise the warning signs of the disease.

“Family and friends are the first line of defence when it comes to catching an ailment early on. They are the ones who notice a change in behavioural pattern, eating and sleeping habits and any other discrepancy which can be serve as red flag. This is why, it’s essential that the public at large is aware of the symptoms of diabetes,” explains Dr Maher Alshaheen, Endocrine and Diabetes Specialist at Bahrain Specialist Hospital.

Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, over eating, constant hunger, extreme fatigue, sensation of tingling, pain and numbness in hands and feet, unexplained weight loss and blurry vision.

If not diagnosed and managed early, diabetes can result in several complication such as diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy, kidney failure, numbness in the foot, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiac episodes and skin infections and disorders. However, not everyone who has diabetes ends up with these complications, and while the list sounds alarming, there are ways to avoid these health issues.

The first and foremost is to watch out for symptoms, along with regular screening for diabetes, particularly those who have family history in order to keep the sugar levels under control. Screening is one of the best tools for early detection and diagnosis of the disease, resulting in a swift treatment that reduces the risks of related health complications.

While diabetes is a chronic disease, affected people by the condition can live long and healthy lives provided they make a few lifestyle adjustments. The disease management requires a complete change in lifestyle supported by medication and involving a healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight. Having said that, diabetes management is often personalised, depending on factors the severity of the ailment, family history, age, gender and other related health issues.

“In short, let’s keep a watchful eye on your loved ones for any signs of diabetes. This one single step can go a long way in helping them maintain a healthier lifestyle and manage the disease with the least amount of discomfort,” added Dr Maher.

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