Know your risk to prevent complications.
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November is dedicated to diabetes awareness and 14 November was World Diabetes Day. Worldwide, there has been an alarming rise in diabetes, a major cause of health complications and premature death. In 2013 there were 347 million people with diabetes and the rate of diabetes among people in their 30s increased by 70%, while it is up by 40% among people in their 40s. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 380 million people will have diabetes by 2025.
There are different types of diabetes but the majority of people develop type 2 diabetes. It is often genetic, triggered by lifestyle factors and occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not respond normally to insulin.
One in every two South Africans is overweight and this makes the risk to develop type 2 diabetes five times greater. About 80% of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight.
Signs and symptoms:
See your doctor immediately when you experience any one or a combination of these symptoms:
Extreme thirst, tiredness, and excessive urination.
Blurry vision, recurrent infections and rapid weight loss.
The symptoms of diabetes are not very specific and globally it can take on average seven years for a person to be diagnosed. Estimates suggest that in Africa at least 78% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed and by the time they are, many already have complications.
Diabetes increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Obesity adds to this risk with its strong association with insulin resistance. High glucose levels in the blood affect the walls of the arteries, making them more likely to develop buildup of plaque. High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, are also prevalent in type 2 diabetes.
As many as 80% of cases of type 2 diabetes can be avoided by following a healthy eating plan and by doing regular exercise. Evidence shows that a 5% to 10% reduction in body weight can significantly reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Once diagnosed only 42% of people actively manage the condition with the help of a doctor. Insufficient management of diabetes means that as many as 86% of people who are diagnosed develop complications and a significantly lower life expectancy.