Diabetes; Preventing It And Living A Healthy Lifestyle After Diagnosis
Boma straightened on his office seat as he pondered on his situation. The company might be folding up soon if sales do not upscale. He apparently needs to put in more hours and drive the sales department. His boss was getting impatient already and this was beginning to get him really apprehensive. He is afraid that he might be out of employment soon and what’s worse, he felt too weak to expend more energy on his job. He couldn’t quite explain what was wrong but a wave blurriness has been assailing his vision while going about his regular business recently. He felt too fatigued to intensify efforts to get the results he needs very badly on his job. He has been gulping down water and eating thrice of his regular food portion. Interestingly, he was losing weight even with this increase in food intake.
Fear welled up in his stomach like hot bile, his heart started racing, his neck throbbed and his palms began to sweat right in his office. His pulse quickened and he felt the ground sink below him.
Boma eyes fluttered opened to the sound of beeping machines and the low hum of the television. He opened his eyes wider to take in his environment. A doctor in a nice blue scrub was jotting on a notepad as he mumbled some few words to the nurse beside him. The older man soon became aware of Boma’s consciousness because he soon signaled to the nurse to leave the room.
‘I see that you are awake sir. You gave your colleagues quite a scare. We already ran some tests on you and we’ve contacted your wife’ The doctor paused and pursed his lips thoughtfully. ‘Mr. Boma, has anyone in your family been diagnosed of Diabetes before?
Boma’s eyes widened in shock. ‘Diabetes?’ The only reason the doctor would ask him such a question is because something is terribly wrong. He couldn’t be diagnosed of diabetes, could he? he was only a 42-year-old man. Surely diabetes is for people in their old age not a man in his prime?
He slowly shook his head in bewilderment. ‘My 74-year-old dad but surely that can’t be happening to me because I am still very young. Doctor, what is going on?’ He queried passionately.
He watched the doctor’s head go up and down in a nod. ‘Yes, Mr. Boma, you have type 2 Diabetes.’
Boma swallowed hard before asking, ‘what is type 2 diabetes?’
Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. This means this chronic disease occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that acts as a key to let glucose from the food we eat flow from the blood to the cells in the body to produce energy. All foods containing carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the blood. Insulin helps the glucose to get into the cells.
There are two types of Diabetes; Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is as a result of an autoimmune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the cells that produce insulin.
As a result, the body produces very little or no insulin. The exact causes of this are not yet known, but are linked to a combination of genetic and environmental conditions.
Type 1 diabetes can affect people at any age, but usually develops in children or young adults. People with type 1 diabetes need daily injections of insulin to control their blood glucose levels. The doctor finished.
Doctor, what are the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?
The most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
- Abnormal thirst and dry mouth
- Sudden weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Lack of energy, tiredness
- Constant hunger
- Blurred vision
‘What of type 2 Diabetes?’
Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent type of diabetes, accounting for around 90% of all cases of diabetes. It is usually characterized by insulin resistance, where the body does not respond entirely to insulin. Since insulin cannot act properly, blood glucose levels begin to increase and more insulin is released. Some people with type 2 diabetes may gradually run out of the pancreas, causing the body to produce less and less insulin, therefore leading to higher blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia).
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to those of type 1 diabetes and include:
- Excessive thirst and dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Lack of energy, tiredness
- Slow healing wounds
- Recurrent infections in the skin
- Blurred vision
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet.
Boma nodded thoughtfully in understanding. ‘Now I see why I’ve been having blurry vision and weakness lately.’ He paused for a nano second before asking ‘Why didn’t I start seeing these symptoms until recently though?’
‘These symptoms can be mild or absent and so people with type 2 diabetes may live several years with the condition before being diagnosed.’ The doctor answered.
Boma gave a heavy sigh and looked bleakly at the elderly man that sat before him. Different alarming thoughts ran through his mind sporadically. So, this is it? he was going to die at 42? He had only gotten married 5 years ago and his daughter is just a year old. He needs to know how long he has left. ‘Doctor, what is going to happen now?’
‘Well Mr. Boma, you are not going to die.’ The doctor said after reading the look of horror on Boma’s face. ‘We only need to manage this disease well. The mainspring of managing type 2 diabetes is a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet, regular physical activity, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight.’ He laid a reassuring hand on Boma’s left shoulder before he continued. ‘Over time, a healthy lifestyle might not be sufficient to keep the blood glucose levels under control so you would need to take oral medication. If treatment with a single medication is not sufficient, combination therapy options may be prescribed. I believe you will be fine as long as you keep following your doctor’s directives.’
Boma nodded slightly. ‘So how do I ensure my wife or daughter prevent Diabetes?’
‘Mr. Boma, Research indicates that most cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through a healthy diet and regular physical activity. A healthy diet includes reducing the quantity of calories you consume if you are overweight, replacing saturated fats (e.g cream, butter) with unsaturated fats (e.g avocado, nuts, olive and vegetable oils), eating dietary fibre (e.g fruit, vegetables, whole grains), and avoiding tobacco use, excessive alcohol and refined sugar. Also, as a Diabetic, you must ensure you keep regular appointments with your doctor.’
The door to the hospital door opened and a woman with worry glazed eyes stepped in. ‘Doctor, what happened to my husband?’ The doctor straightened his shoulder for the long interrogation ahead. Apparently, Mrs Boma has just entered the room.
This article was developed by Temitope Olawunmi, Communications Officer,
Equitable Health Access Initiative (EHAI) drawing from the reference below:
International Diabetes Federation https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/prevention.html
World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
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