Diabetes has been a growing concern. According to International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 415 million adults were living with diabetes in 2015 and this number is expected to increase to around 642 million or one in ten adults by 2040.
This disease cannot be cured. True. But with apt precautionary measures and lifestyle modifications, diabetes can definitely be prevented or at least managed better, so as to enable the patient to lead a normal and healthy life.
This year with World Diabetes Day being themed around ‘Eyes on you’ the focus now is on the importance of early detection and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.
“Type 2 diabetes is usually seen in people in the age group of 40s and 50s. However, currently we have been seeing many young adults between 20-30 years of age suffering from diabetes. In fact, in the last 5 years there has been an increase in teenagers suffering from Type 2 diabetes.” said Dr. Rajeshwari Janakiraman, Consultant Endocrinologist, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur.
Those who come under the high-risk category for diabetes, that includes family history of diabetes, history of gestational (in pregnancy) diabetes , history of polycystic ovary disease, obesity and increased waist circumference (90 cm in men and 80 cm in women), being physically inactive, need to be extra cautious. For them, it is crucial to make changes in lifestyles immediately.
“For people who have been diagnosed with prediabetes, it is important to understand that it doesn’t mean you already have diabetes and hence simple changes in lifestyle can help delay the onset of diabetes in most cases. In many cases, people who are borderline diabetes, can achieve normal sugar levels with lifestyle modification. Healthy eating and regular exercise can go a long way in maintaining body weight and reducing sugar levels in the body. One should watch their carb intake and control the portions of their meal. At the same time, it’s important to add more fibre-rich foods in your diet,” said Dr. Rajeshwari.
According to a study conducted by International Diabetes Federation (IDF), up to 70% of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyle that includes healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco.
“Around 20-25% of patients from different sections of the society, come to us for issues like nerve damage or sometimes kidney and eye problems. On further evaluation, we realize that they have diabetes and these issues are complications of diabetes. If diabetes was diagnosed earlier, our treatment process would have been much different and there would have been chances that they would have been able to avoid these co-morbid complications,” added the doctor.
Comorbidities of Type 2 Diabetes:
Overweight individuals with Type 2 diabetes should strive for a 5% to 10% reduction in weight and should avoid weight gain.
Fatty Liver Disease
Some patients with type 2 diabetes may have unexplained elevated levels of hepatic transaminase concentrations, which in turn can lead to fatty liver disease. In these cases, improving metabolic abnormalities can be beneficial which includes weight loss, sugar control, and treatment with specific drugs for high sugars or cholesterol.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA accounts for over 80% cases of co-morbid complications in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Treating sleep apnea can significantly help in improving the quality of life and controlling blood pressure.
Complications of Type 2 diabetes:
Around 60 – 70 percent of people with diabetes are likely to develop some form of neuropathy or nerve problems. These can happen any time and the risk rises with age and longer duration of diabetes. The highest rates of neuropathy are among people who have had diabetes for at least 25 years.
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes that occurs when the tiny blood vessels in the retina leak blood and other fluids. This causes the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. Glaucoma is also common in persons with diabetes and can be eye threatening.
People with diabetes can also suffer from kidney issues which in worse cases can also lead to kidney failure. There are no symptoms in the early stages hence making it important to have regular urine tests to find kidney damage early. Sometimes early kidney damage can also be reversed.