WHAT IS DIABETES?WHAT IS DIABETES?

When you eat, your body breaks down the starchy foods you eat into glucose and your blood carries this glucose to all the cells in your body.  Your body needs insulin to carry the glucose from the blood into the cells. These cells use the glucose for energy to do their work.
But when you have diabetes, your body can’t properly use this glucose in your blood.

This happens either because of 1 of 2 reasons.

Either your body doesn’t make enough insulin or it doesn’t use the insulin which it makes properly. Because without insulin, the glucose in your blood can’t go into your cells. This results in the blood glucose building up in your bloodstream which is called hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

All diabetes are not the same and the medical treatment differs depending on the way that your body handles insulin and glucose.

WHAT ARE SOME TELLTALE SIGNS OF DIABETES MELLITUS?
Some of the following symptoms may suggest that you are DIABETIC:

  • Visiting the toilet more frequently and generally feeling very thirsty
  • Eating more than usual but still losing weight
  • Feeling very tired and weak
  • Having blurred vision and itchy skin
  • Slow healing of sores and cuts

However, the only way you can know for sure whether or not you have diabetes is to have a blood glucose test.

IS THERE A CURE FOR DIABETES?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes although it can be managed.
It’s possible to have diabetes and still live a healthy life provided that you make certain changes to your lifestyle, including the following:

  • Take your medication as prescribed
  • Follow healthy eating habits
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
  • Exercise regularly

WHO GETS DIABETES?
Anybody can get diabetes. Diabetes is a genetic disease, so people in the same family can get it. Additionally, certain conditions such as stress or a virus can cause diabetes to start in people at risk. What’s more, both overweight and skinny people can get diabetes, but overweight people and those who don’t exercise regularly are at greater risk.

WHO SHOULD GO FOR A BLOOD GLUCOSE TEST AND HOW OFTEN?

You must go for a blood glucose test if you have any of the above symptoms.
You should also go for a blood glucose test if you’re 45 years or older or if you’re overweight at any age. Additionally, those who have high blood pressure or relatives with diabetes may be at higher risk, and mothers who have delivered a baby that weighs more than 4 kg at birth.

In general, it’s recommended that you have a blood glucose test every 3 years.  A normal blood glucose level is between 4 – 6 mmol /L. Visit your nearest health care centre, clinic or pharmacy and ask to have your blood glucose level tested.

This article was supplied by Dr.  A.M. Bux  (General Practitioner)