Diabetes is becoming more prevalent globally, which increases the risk of severe, chronic conditions like stroke, heart disease, kidney disease etc.
Diabetes is becoming more prevalent globally, which increases the risk of severe, chronic conditions like stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve and foot issues. It is a chronic condition that develops when the body either cannot use the insulin the pancreas produces properly or cannot make enough of it.
There are many common myths that people believe about diabetes and its management. We spoke to our expert Dr. P. G. Talwalkar, Consultant-Diabetologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim-A Fortis Associate, who debunked myths and shared the facts.
The interaction of inherited and environmental variables results in the development of diabetes. Diabetics have a deficiency of insulin, a hormone that is responsible for controlling blood sugar. If you develop a moderate to severe deficiency of insulin, even if they do not eat any sweets you will get diabetes. A person with diabetes should not eat any food that contains sugar. Artificial sweeteners such as saccharine and sweetex are allowed. In mild diabetics, proper dietary restrictions can easily control blood glucose levels. In contrast, a severe diabetic will not have his blood sugar under control even with a high dose of powerful anti-diabetic medications or insulin if he ignores dietary limitations.
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Many people believe that only rich people get affected by diabetes. This is a misconception; the disease is prevalent all over the world. It has no geographic, socioeconomic, or other limitations. Obesity, which is more common in financially well-off people, is one of the predisposing factors for type 2 diabetes. It is a common type of diabetes and about 95% of diabetics in India are affected by this. Moreover, many of the underprivileged diabetics in our country remain undetected for a long time due to a lack of medical facilities.
As mentioned above, diabetes results from the interplay between hereditary and environmental factors; hence, it does not necessarily express itself in every generation. Moreover, many mild diabetics remain undetected for several years. In addition, many do not disclose their diabetes status. We tend to accumulate a much higher percentage of our total body fat in the abdomen, giving us a characteristic paunch. At the same time, we have poor muscle development, and hence many Indians, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, are 'thin but fat'. This means we have excessive body fat, but our total body weight is still within the normal weight category. Research has established a much stronger relationship between abdominal fat and diabetes and heart disease than fat in other body parts, particularly lower body parts.
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The absence of sugar in the urine does not always rule out diabetes because mild diabetics do not pass sugar in their urine for 24 hours. Urine passed two hours after a full meal, or 75 gm of glucose, is more likely to have sugar than urine passed in the morning. Therefore, blood tests are a must to diagnose and monitor diabetes.
Usually, the younger generation tends to think that diabetes and heart attacks occur in older people. However, studies have shown that improper lifestyles have impacted young adults, making them more susceptible to metabolic disorders like diabetes. In India, diabetes develops about 15 years earlier than in people in western countries, and the age at the onset of the disease continuously decreases.
Even if you have no symptoms and are perfectly healthy, you should start checking your diabetes post turning 30 and, if necessary, at two-year intervals subsequently. Also, if you see any symptoms related to diabetes, it is advisable to check your blood sugar level and consult experts.
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