Diabetes is one of the most common diseases affecting a large number of people. If not treated properly, diabetes can cause several complications like stroke and heart disease.
Here’s a list of commonly asked questions on diabetes answered by Dr.Sanjay Agarwal, MD (Head, Dept. Of Medicine, Ruby Hall Clinic,Pune. Sr.Consultant in Medicine & Diabetes, Jehangir & Apollo Group of Hospitals,Pune)
1. What is Diabetes Mellites? How do you get it?
A high level of glucose in the blood is called diabetes. A bad lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, sedentary life, family history, etc. all play major roles in a person contracting Diabetes. The most common types of diabetes are:
- Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
- Type II Diabetes Mellitus
- Gestational diabetes
2. Am I at a risk of developing Diabetes?
- Generally, you are at a higher risk of developing diabetes if you are aged 45 or older
- If you are overweight
- There’s a history of diabetes in your family
- You have a high blood pressure
- Low HDL, high level of blood lipids
- Had Diabetes when pregnant or gave birth to an overweight baby (Over 9 pounds)
- Are physically inactive (exercise less than 3 times a week)
3. What are the common symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus?
- Increased thirst /hunger
- Weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Slow wound healing
- Fungal infection
- Tingling sensation in extremities
4. How do I know if I have Diabetes?
- If you have any one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to your health care provider about getting a blood test to check your blood glucose level
- To know if you have diabetes or Prediabetes (A condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Diabetes), conduct a Glycated haemoglobin (A1C) test. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes. An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. Below 5.7 is considered normal.
5. How to treat Diabetes? Are you supposed to continue the medications for lifetime?
- Diabetes is not curable, but it is manageable
- After it is totally under control, you should take the prescribed medication to maintain healthy blood glucose levels
- Keep checking your sugar levels on a regular basis to understand the status of your control
6. What can I do to prevent Diabetes?
- The prevention of diabetes requires physical efforts every day, consuming and maintaining a well-balanced and healthy diet that has low-fat content and contains very few calories is a must
- Losing weight is also a necessity in certain cases if required
7. What are the complications of Diabetes Mellitus?
- Diabetes Mellitus can affect your kidney, heart, eyes and nerves
- Increased incidence of ischemic heart disease
- Peripheral artery disease, a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. When you develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), your extremities, usually your legs don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand
- If a diabetic person has a cut or a wound it should be treated immediately, if left untreated the wound will get infected and contraction of gangrene is a genuine possibility. The only possible solution to this is the amputation of the infected body part.
- Diabetic patients have increased susceptibility towards strokes
8. How to manage Diabetes?
- The most important part of managing diabetes is your diet, you should follow a healthy, balanced and well-nourished diet
- If you have diabetes, you should exercise regularly and stay as active as possible
- You can self-monitor your blood glucose and medication
- Spend 45 minutes walking at least 5-6 days a week
- Take medications as prescribed, don’t skip any dose
- Routine follow up and investigations are mandatory
- Once you develop Diabetes you have to take utmost care of your lifestyle as the simplest of errors in managing Diabetes can result to serious complications