Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to be used by the body, or the body cannot use the insulin that is produced. Insulin is the hormone that moves sugar from the blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. (WHO)
According to the Ministry of Health, The majority of people who have succumbed to COVID-19 had underlying conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. These are non-communicable diseases whose burden to the health system is on the rise. Discount Drug List for Top Pharmacies
The country is experiencing a rise in diabetes owing to demographic, nutritional and social changes such as urbanization. 88% of Kenyans aged 18-69 years had never had a blood sugar measurement in their lifetime. Survey by the Ministry of Health found the prevalence of diabetes to be 2%. Only 40% of those known to have diabetes were on treatment. (MOH- Kenya)
Myths on Diabetes
Despite the number of people suffering from diabetes increasing in the country, there are a number of myths that people still associate with diabetes. These include;
- People suffering from diabetes have been bewitched.
The families and communities that believe this will go a long way to seek the help of traditional medicines or a witch doctor, and the patient will continue to suffer and die if not taken to a hospital for treatment.
- Eating sugar causes diabetes
There is a public belief that sugar causes diabetes. Remember that 100% of the carbohydrates we eat (grains, fruit, dairy, even vegetables) are converted into glucose for energy. While eating a diet high in sugar, and processed foods plus other unhealthy lifestyle factors can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, sugar alone doesn’t cause either type of diabetes.
- Cinnamon, bitter melon, turmeric, stone fruit, or hibiscus leaves cure diabetes.
While some herbs and foods can improve a person’s insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes, there is absolutely no magic spice, herb, plant or food that can cure anyone of any type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is incurable, although there is a good deal of research ongoing. In type 2 diabetes, when it is detected very early, some individuals can reverse the disease with major lifestyle changes including a healthy diet along with exercise under doctor supervision. This is a kind of remission which needs constant attention for life. Additionally, there is a need for greater awareness about the development of type 2 diabetes in those with a family history so people can work on preventative strategies such as healthy eating and exercise. Healthy strategies are not just recommended for people at risk for or for those living with diabetes but for all people.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes – The immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. It’s unclear what causes this attack. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes. For some reason, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Type 2 Diabetes – Type 2 diabetes stems from a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight or obese increases your risk too. Carrying extra weight, especially in your belly, makes your cells more resistant to the effects of insulin on your blood sugar.
This condition runs in families. Family members share genes that make them more likely to get type 2 diabetes and to be overweight.
Gestational diabetes is the result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. The placenta produces hormones that make a pregnant woman’s cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This can cause high blood sugar during pregnancy.
Women who are overweight when they get pregnant are more likely to get gestational diabetes.
General Symptoms of Diabetes
- increased hunger
- increased thirst
- weight loss
- frequent urination
- blurry vision
- extreme fatigue
- sores that don’t heal
Treatment of diabetes and prevention
Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:
Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Be physically active – doing at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control.
Eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats.
Avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Type 1 diabetes
Insulin is the main treatment for type 1 diabetes. It replaces the hormone your body isn’t able to produce.
There are four types of insulin that are most commonly used. They’re differentiated by how quickly they start to work, and how long their effects last:
Rapid-acting insulin starts to work within 15 minutes and its effects last for 3 to 4 hours.
Short-acting insulin starts to work within 30 minutes and lasts 6 to 8 hours.
Intermediate-acting insulin starts to work within 1 to 2 hours and lasts 12 to 18 hours.
Long-acting insulin starts to work a few hours after injection and lasts 24 hours or longer.
Type 2 diabetes
Diet and exercise can help some people manage type 2 diabetes. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower your blood sugar, you’ll need to take medication, which is prescribed by a physician. These drugs lower your blood sugar in a variety of ways:
You may need to take more than one of these drugs. Some people with type 2 diabetes also take insulin.
You’ll need to monitor your blood sugar levels several times a day during pregnancy. If it’s high, dietary changes and exercise may or may not be enough to bring it down.
Remember that prevention is better than cure. Go for early screening of diabetes and live a healthy life, through regular exercising, healthy diet and checking your weight. If you have any symptoms related to diabetes, please visit your nearest health facility to get checked. Diabetes is treatable and manageable.