Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting about 70 million Indians today and is caused due to a rise in the blood sugar levels in the body. Kerala has earned itself the title of the diabetes capital of India with 19.4% of the population living with the condition.
To add to this about 50% of people living with diabetes are asymptomatic making timely diagnosis difficult and subsequent damage to other organs inevitable. Kerala also has a high burden of pre-diabetes, affecting about 11% of the population.
This increases the chances of a person developing diabetes and other related ailments in the future making timely lifestyle modifications and treatment important. Raising awareness Dr. N.K. Thulasidharan, HOD – Medicine, Calicut Medical College, Kozhikode said, “Diabetes has the potential to trigger various health complications in patients including heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage. It can also cause damage to the eyes
causing vision loss and sexual dysfunction in both men and women.”
Diabetes accelerates the process of fatty deposition in the blood vessel walls-a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis progresses to occlusion of arteries to different organs resulting in heart attack, stroke and peripheral gangrene and amputation.
Dr Thulasidharan further added, “In addition to the increased risk of heart attacks, diabetes can directly damage heart muscles and impair pumping function. It is also a leading cause of kidney failure, as diabetic kidney involvement does not show symptoms until much later. Apart from damage to various organs, it can cause swelling and leaky blood vessels in the eyes as well. The only way to prevent or delay the various target organ damage is to keep blood sugar in normal range, right from the identification of diabetes and periodic screening for involvement of different organs. “
Another complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy, or damage to the nerves. This affects a person’s perception of heat, cold, and pain, and makes them more prone to injury. This is also one of the main reasons for sexual dysfunction in those living with diabetes. The effect of diabetes on the skin may range from mild to severe. The patient may have dark patches on the skin or suffer from bacterial or fungal infections.
Some tips for preventing the unwanted effects of diabetes:
Get HbA1c levels checked regularly.
Maintain cholesterol levels.
Monitor glucose levels regularly.
Keep blood pressure within the normal range.
Get regular eye check-ups.
Lose weight, if required.
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