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Diabetes mellitus is a long term condition that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin produced by the pancreas.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates body sugar by helping to keep blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycemia).

Raised blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s organs such as the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels.

In 2015, it was estimated that over 382 million people throughout the world had diabetes. In 2020, the number of people living with diabetes worldwide rose to 422 million. Currently, there are over 500 million cases of diabetes worldwide.

There are two major types of diabetes; one is the type 1 diabetes which is the case where the body does not produce insulin (a biochemical which helps to break down sugar in the blood). Approximately 10% of all cases of diabetes are type 1.

The second type of diabetes is the type 2 diabetes in which the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function. Approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are of this type.

Other types of diabetes include, Gestational diabetes which affects females during pregnancy and Juvenile diabetes, which affects children, although this type is rare.

It is important to note that;
• Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke)
• Combined with reduced blood flow, nerve damage (neuropathy) in the feet, diabetes increases the risk of foot ulcers, infections and eventual need for limb amputation.
• Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness and occurs as a result of long term damage to the small blood vessels in the retina.
• Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney failure (nephropathy).

Warning signs of diabetes include frequent urination, unusually increased thirst, constant hunger, unusual weight loss, blurred vision, extreme fatigue, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, etc.

The earlier a person is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can be initiated in order to reduce the risk of harmful and costly complications. A person with type 2 diabetes can live for several years without showing any symptoms, during which time high blood glucose is silently damaging the body. There is therefore an urgent need to screen, diagnose and provide appropriate treatment to people with diabetes.

Diabetes can be prevented by adopting simple and healthy lifestyle which includes maintaining healthy body weight, indulging in physical fitness activities like brisk walks and jogging, eating healthy diet with more of vegetables and fruits and less of sugars and saturated fats, reducing alcohol intake and avoiding tobacco use.

Everyone is enjoined to ensure that they regularly undergo screening for diabetes through checking of their blood sugar levels (Fasting Blood Sugar Test and Glucose Tolerance Tests); to avoid the complications that result from undiagnosed cases of diabetes.

Check your sugar level at least once in a month and save yourself and family the pain that comes with complications of diabetes. Remember, early detection is the key to effective management of diabetes!



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