If you feel like you can identify with the above statement, do not despair as you are not alone. Diabetes mellitus, or commonly known as diabetes, is a leading cause of death in South Africa, affecting over 415 million people worldwide. There are many forms of diabetes and the starting point would be to know what forms there are and which one you have. The most commonly known forms is type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Let’s briefly look at these types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile-onset or insulin dependent diabetes. It is generally caused by an autoimmune condition in which the body destroys its own pancreas cells, cells which are used to produce insulin. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes often occurs suddenly and include extreme thirst, sudden weight loss, extreme fatigue and frequent urination. Treatment involves insulin replacement therapy.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent. It is characterised by insufficient insulin production and insulin resistance. It is often caused by leading a sedentary lifestyle with poor eating habits which have collectively lead to weight gain. People can have type 2 diabetes for many years and show no classic symptoms, however diagnosis often occurs when the complications of diabetes actually manifests. Some of the complications of diabetes includes nerve, kidney and eye damage. The scariest fact is that every 6 seconds someone dies from diabetes related causes and for this reason, diabetes care should not be taken lightly.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy and carries an increased risk that both the mother and baby can develop type 2 diabetes later in life. It can also add complications to the pregnancy such as the baby becoming too large. Therefore it is essential to ensure that a healthy, active lifestyle is followed before, during and after pregnancy, with special attention paid to going for regular check-ups with the doctor.
Who can help me manage my diabetes?
Proper diabetes management is critical to ensure proper diabetes control and management. In fact there is an entire healthcare team who is able and willing to help you. Members of the healthcare team include, but is not limited to:
- Diabetes educator
What works for someone else, might not always work for you and it is for this reason that it is important that your diabetes care plan is personalised to you. However it is critical to remember that it is your responsibility ultimately to take charge of your life and healthcare and commit to learn as much as possible about this condition so that you can manage it successfully. Healthy eating, taking your medication regularly and living an active life are key principles to follow. It is also important to regularly check your blood glucose levels using an at home glucose machine, but even more importantly is learning how to interpret these results and act upon them.
In future blog posts we will discuss the CDE Diabetes Management Programme but for now ask yourself:
- When last have you checked your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, kidney function or body weight?
- What single action can you take today to help you with your diabetes management?