Healthy lifestyle battles diabetes
vW TO MANAGE DIABETES AT WORK?
With our hectic, erratic urban lifestyles and genetic predispositions, it is no surprise to know that
India is the diabetes capital of the world housing 50.8 million people with diabetes. The
International Diabetes Federation (IDF), which tracks the global spread of this scourge, predicts
the number to go up to a whopping 87 million — 8.4 percent of the country’s adult population —
by 2030. Being detected with diabetes is just the tip of the iceberg; dealing with its complications
is the actual problem. Every 10 seconds there are two fresh diabetics detected and every 10
seconds a person dies of diabetes-related complications. Diabetic complications are the real
killers — they affect every organ in the body most prominently the kidneys, nerves and eyes.
Here’s a list of probable side-effects that you should look for...
Diabetic Neuropathy (nerve pain) presents itself as tingling and burning pain in your feet and
hands, this indicates nerve damage. If left untreated, it will lead to scaly dry skin with repeated
foot infections and eventually gangrene which might require amputation. A simple
monofilament/vibration test done by your doctor/podiatrist will help check for decreased
sensation in your feet and detect neuropathy early. Insist that your doctor examines your feet at
every visit. Wearing protective foot care will go a long way in saving a diabetic foot and taking
care of it.
Normal ageing and vision problems are further hastened when blood sugars and blood pressure
are uncontrolled. Early signs of eye problems in diabetes are blurring of vision and seeing dots
and blots. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to retinopathy which may even lead to blindness.
Diabetes has become the sixth cause of eye problems with 18 per cent of diabetics above the age
of 40 having diabetic retinopathy. A regular visit to the ophthalmologist, at least once a year, and
undergoing a fundoscopy examination help diagnose the problem at the right stage.
Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, accounting for more than 40 per cent of
new cases. Kidney complications usually present themselves with signs of swelling in the feet
associated with high blood pressure and breathlessness. Repeated low blood sugar episodes
(hypoglycaemia) and less need for insulin or anti-diabetic pills could also indicate kidney
dysfunction. Early detection is very important and can be done by checking the
protein/microalbumin in the urine. Rising creatinine levels in the blood is an indicator of
progressing kidney damage.
A vascular disease
There is a strong association between high blood glucose and heart disease. Diabetes is said to be
a vascular disease wherein eight out of 10 people will end up with heart disease. This is already
evident with increasing number of heart attacks seen in younger people around us. Damage to the
heart and brain (stroke) are a result of a combination of chronic blood vessel changes because of
diabetes and high lipids which end up clogging vessels and damaging the elasticity of blood
vessels. People with a high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes find themselves in a
dangerous triad. They land up with blocked arteries and damaged hearts more easily than normal
Adapting healthy lifestyle
The only way to ward off these complications is to adapt to healthy lifestyle choices and
maintain your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels close to normal. Doing so
may help prevent or delay diabetes-related problems affecting the heart, foot, eye and kidney. It
is advised that you consult your doctor and chalk out a diabetes care plan that fits your lifestyle.
Here is a checklist that you should religiously follow:
a) Get your diabetes ABCs checked regularly: A1C (an average measure of your blood glucose
over a three-month period), blood pressure and cholesterol.
b) Know how and when to test your blood glucose and maintain
c) Ensure that you take your medicines as prescribed.
d) Follow the healthy eating plan your dietician has suggested.
e) Choose an activity best suited for you.
f) Do not smoke.
g) Follow your foot care and eye care guidelines.
h) Have your feet, eyes and kidneys checked at least once a year.
The writer is a well-known Chief Diabetes Educator at
Cheeny Kum-Exemplar Lifecare, which has the first real-time
disease management technology that provides comprehensive
care solutions for chronic diseases like diabetes