World Health Day 2016: How to prevent diabetes

World Health Day 2016 is dedicated to raising awareness of diabetes in the hope that we can finally beat it

On Thursday 7th April for World Health Day, the World Health Organisation has called for action against diabetes which has seen the number of adults suffering with the disease nearly quadruple to 422 million since 1980.

World Health Day 2016 is dedicated to raising awareness of diabetes in the hope that we can finally beat it.
Around the world, an estimated 347 million people suffer from the disease – according to figures from 2008 – with that figure rapidly growing.

In particular, diabetes increasingly affects poor and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO projects that by 2030, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in the world so it is easy to understand why the disease is being highlighted in today’s World Health Day.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease where the pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone insulin – or – if it does, the person’s body cannot effectively use it.

If the body cannot access insulin for whichever reason, sugar can build up to harmful levels in the blood, which can lead to hyperglycemia (too much blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (too low sugar in the blood).

Over time this can cause major complications in the body including heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, impotence and infections that may lead to amputation. This is particularly prevalent in those with high blood sugar levels.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

People with the diabetes either have one of two different types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2 – depending on how much insulin they produce.

Those suffering from Type 2 diabetes produce some insulin – but not enough and often their bodies are not able to properly use the hormone.

Anyone with Type 1 diabetes typically produces no insulin at all, meaning they need to inject themselves on a daily basis to survive.

What causes diabetes?

It is not known what causes Type 1 but it often runs in families so is thought to be genetic.You have a higher chance of developing Type 2 if you are over 40 (or over 25 if you are of south Asian descent), have a close relative with diabetes, are overweight or obese, or are of south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or black African origin (even if you were born in the UK).


Symptoms and signs of diabetes

  • Frequent urination.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Increased hunger.
  • Weight loss.
  • Tiredness.
  • Lack of interest and concentration.
  • A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Slow-healing wounds.
  • Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)

Follow these WHO guidelines to beat diabetes

Eat healthy: Eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar and saturated fats can help prevent Type 2 diabetes, and help people to manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes if they have it.

Be active: At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity regularly, can help prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications.

If in doubt, check: Symptoms for diabetes include thirst, hunger, weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision. However, a lot of people with diabetes do not show symptoms. If you feel you might have the disease, consult a health-care professional to get help as soon as you can.

Follow medical advise: There are various treatments to manage diabetes and control blood glucose. People with diabetes can live well if they follow a plan that is developed together with their health-care provider.

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International