Tanzania: Know Much About Diabetes, Your Right to a Healthy Future

AS stated in my previous article; Studies shows that nearly every patient hospitalised with Covid-19 had more than one underlying health issue and diabetes was among the common underlying conditions.

Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it's an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues.

It's also your brain's main source of fuel. The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems.

The major forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is characterised by lack of insulin production; Its cause is unknown but is probably due to a combination of the genes a person is born with and something in the environment that triggers the genes to become active. In Type 2, insulin is produced although the body becomes less sensitive to it over time, which is what causes complications.

Type 2 is more common, accounting for about 90 percent of all diabetes worldwide. People inherit genes that make them susceptible to type 2, but lifestyle factors, like obesity and inactivity are risk factors for type 2.

The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women and often resolves after birth. Diabetes can also occur as a secondary complication of pancreatitis, drugs such as cortical-steroids, endocrine disorders and certain malignancies

Usually, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in childhood, while type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed at later years. But these aren't hard and fast rules since people are getting type 2 diabetes at increasingly younger ages highlighting the need for diabetes prevention at all ages.

Major risk factors of type 2 diabetes include obesity, inactivity, history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), being over age 45, and having a family history of diabetes among others.

Nevertheless, you can prevent type 2 diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight; Following a healthy diet that's rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and lean protein; Getting sufficient sleep; And exercising regularly.

But preventing the disease from progressing if you already have it requires first being able to spot the signs and symptoms of diabetes when they appear.

While some type 2 diabetes symptoms may not ever show up, you can watch out for the common signs of the disease, especially if you have any of the common risk factors for diabetes.

A common sign of diabetes is frequent urination due to excess glucose in the blood making the kidneys to react by flushing it into the urine. This results in more urine production and the need to urinate more frequently, as well as an increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Increased thirst or a dry mouth may also signal diabetes because frequent urination causes you to lose a lot of fluid and become dehydrated. Consequently, you develop a dry mouth and feel thirsty more often.

Another sign to watch out for is weight loss due to the fact that your cells don't get enough glucose. Weight loss may also be due to frequent urination which will result to lose more calories and water, resulting in weight loss.

Feeling hungry all the time also may be a diabetes sign due to the fact that insulin doesn't work well in muscle, fat, and other tissues, so your pancreas (the organ that makes insulin) starts to put out a lot more of it to try and compensate. This results in high insulin levels in the body, which sends signals to the brain that your body is hungry.

Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually since over time, a prolonged exposure to high blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout the body a condition called diabetic neuropathy.

Some people may not have any symptoms of the damage, while others may notice numbness, tingling, or pain in the extremities. Foot infections is also a common symptom, because the disease can damage the architecture of the foot, including the skin, blood vessels, and nerves although foot problems are usually seen more frequently in those with advanced diabetes.

Frequent infections and feminine health issues could mean diabetes since both yeast and bacteria multiply more quickly when blood sugar levels are elevated, women with diabetes are overall at a higher risk of feminine health issues, such as bacterial infections, yeast infections, and vaginal thrush, especially when blood sugar isn't well controlled. And a lack of awareness about having diabetes can make managing blood sugar impossible.

Blurred vision is an early warning signs of type 2 diabetes. Blurred vision occurs when there are rapid changes in blood sugar from low to high and the eye muscles have not yet adapted to it. The body later adapts to the sugar levels, and your vision will go back to normal.

To diagnose diabetes, there is a need to visit a doctor where blood tests will be carried out for confirmatory diagnosis. Note that, a good diabetes diet and regular exercise matters for people with diabetes.

Additionally, you'll want to cut back on; Regular soft drinks and juice, refined carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, and potatoes; High-fat desserts; High-fat and processed meats, and limit your drinking habits. Remember we don't know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have so stay healthy!

The Author, Racheal Masibo, is an Assistant Lecturer at St John's University of Tanzania (SJUT)-School of Nursing, P.O BOX 47 Dodoma Tanzania. Email: rackelmasibo@yahoo.com Mobile: 0717513598

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