The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.

In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes.

By 2030, the World Health Organization estimates that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death across the world.

Faced with alarming statistics, the WHO has decided to make “Beat Diabetes” the theme of this year’s World Health Day.

There’s greater need to ring the alarm bells in India as the WHO has stated that South Asian countries, including India, must take “vigorous and concerted” action to prevent and treat diabetes.

And there’s plenty of reason to worry. The number of people with diabetes in India doubled from 32 million in 2000 to 63 million in 2013 and is projected to increase to 101.2 million in next 15 years. Indians also seem to be genetically predisposed to diabetes. Worldwide, men above 36 and women above 34 are at high risk while in India the age is lower – 34 for males and 32 for females.

The worst part? Almost half the people suffering from diabetes don’t know they have the disease or that there could have been some control had it been diagnosed earlier.

What is diabetes?

Often called diabetes mellitus, this is a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose/blood sugar.

Why does it happen?

It can happen either because the body isn’t producing enough insulin or if the body’s cells are not responding to insulin, or in both scenarios.

What are the types of diabetes?

Type 1

This is when the body does not produce insulin. About 10 percent of all diabetes cases are Type 1. People usually develop this in teenage or early adulthood.

Type 2

In this case, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper functioning. Almost 90 percent of all cases of diabetes worldwide is of this type.

There can also be gestational diabetes, which affects a percentage of women during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Intense hunger
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased fatigue and irritability
  • Slowed healing of cuts and bruises
  • More skin and/or yeast infections; itchy skin
  • Swollen or red gums; frequent gum disease/infection
  • Numbness or tingling, especially in feet and hands
  • Blurred vision
  • Sexual dysfunction among men

How can it be treated?

All types of diabetes last a lifetime but they can be treated.

Type 1

Diabetes, for which there is no cure, can be managed with insulin.

Type 2

Diabetes can be managed with non-insulin medications, insulin, dietary changes, exercise and weight loss. If diabetes is not controlled the patient is at a significantly higher risk of developing complications. It can cause serious damage to every major organ, and may lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness and nerve damage.

What is prediabetes?

Most people with Type 2 diabetes started out with prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to merit a diabetes diagnosis. The cells in their body are turning resistant to insulin.

What can you do?

According to the WHO, nearly 90 percent of all diabetes cases is Type 2 diabetes, largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. A large proportion of diabetes cases is preventable. Research has shown that simple lifestyle measures can help prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Maintaining normal body weight and BMI, regular exercise and eating a diet rich in fibre and low glycemic foods can reduce the risk of diabetes. Cut down on sugar and white foods and ensure that you eat short meals at regular intervals.

If not controlled, diabetes can put the patient at risk of several complications, including cardiovascular disease, nerve, kidney and eye damage, skin conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and hearing impairment.

But making lifestyle and dietary changes can ensure successful diabetes management. HealthifyMe trainers have helped many diabetes patients bring their sugar levels down by getting fitter and losing weight.

Surat resident Chaitali is one of them. Chaitali, who was admitted to hospital and informed that she was diabetic, found that her “fasting sugar level was 400”. She weighed 87 kg and realised that it was essential for her to “drastically” drop the kilos to bring her sugar levels down. In 10 months, she lost 22 kg and has achieved her goal of becoming diabetes free. “I now do not take any medication for diabetes,” she says.

Join her and many others like her by joining HealthifyMe. Click here to read more about Chaitali’s success story.

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