I Didn’t Know I Had Diabetes
Quite some few decades ago, diseases like Diabetes Melitus (Type II to be specific), Hypertension, Stroke, Dementia and many others were considered to be common in old age. But today, countless number of adolescents, not to talk of adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s are battling with these diseases.
They are chronic and not curable, and often one is required to observe strict health protocols or be on drugs in order to put the disease under check. Also, they gradually reduce the quality of life of individuals affected as they come along with various complications. This is the most reason why there have to be global concern for the rise of these diseases in the working class.
The alarming thing about them is that, they don’t come with flags of caution. They are insidious, causing a lot of havoc within us before finally coming out with clinical signs and symptoms.
In most instances, they don’t come with a clear underlying cause. That is, unlike infectious diseases, you don’t have to specifically do something unusual to be affected by them.
How traumatizing is it to be affected with a disease without any known cause? That’s why most people diagnosed of these chronic diseases express a lot of shock. This is what a client (for purposes of this article, he shall be called Yawson) have to say after Diabetes landed him in the Emergency Room.
It all happened so quick that he could remember just a little. He woke up from bed one morning feeling very exhausted and hot, like one who has just returned from a tedious exercise, though he hasn’t engaged in any.
The last thing he could remember was that he sat in his sofa to have some rest. However, he didn’t wake up in his sofa but on a hospital bed. He was rushed into the Emergency Room in an unconscious state with a very low blood sugar level. He was later diagnosed as having Type II Diabetes Melitus.
Before the above incident, Mr Yawson, the young family man in his early 30’s lived a good healthy life. He was very conscious of his health, watched his diet, eats less sugar and salt, adds fruits and vegetables to his diet, exercise regularly and drinks a lot of water.
Water is vital to good health and thus he didn’t see anything wrong with taking in a lot of water. And so far as it caused him to urinate more, he saw it as a positive sign. Besides, his urine were clear and not offensive. Unknowingly, what he thought as a positive sign were rather symptoms of a lifetime disease.
Today, a large faction of the public believe that Diabetes Melitus starts by delaying wound healing, making your urine sweet to taste or making your fingers and feet feels numb. Often, that’s not always the case. These cardinal symptoms usually happen in the advanced stage of the disease.
Sugar, as believed to be the cause of the Diabetes is not also true. Thus, avoiding sugar or eating less of it doesn’t insure one against the disease. The whole world would’ve been victims of the disease if sugar was to be the main cause. The truth is, every starchy food (including rice, noodles, Banku, Fufu, Akple etc) we eat end up turning into sugar (glucose) in our body.
Even if we avoid these foods, the body will still produce sugar (glucose) from other food groups such as fats and protein. Meaning, we can never escape from sugar. Our body needs it to produce energy.
Diabetes Melitus is a disease that involves a hormone called Insulin which is produced by an organ in our body called Pancreas. The work of the insulin is to carry sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells where it can be burned into energy. The sugar is rather harmful when there is no insulin to carry it into the cells.
In diabetes, it’s either the pancreas which produces the insulin cannot produce enough insulin or the insulin produced is not effective enough to carry the sugar from the blood.
The cause of this is usually not known but at times the soldiers in our body which are supposed to protect us from infections can attack its own organs which the pancreas can be a victim.
Though the disease usually happens without a known cause, some group of people stand at a higher chance of getting it: those with excess body weight, those who don’t exercise often and those with a family history of the disease – that is you stand at a higher chance of getting the disease if any of your family members have had the disease before.
The disease is of two main types though there are other types. The Type I usually start from childhood and have a genetic link. It accounts for about 5% – 20% of all DMs. Those who have it usually cannot produce insulin at all whereas those with Type II may produce some amount of insulin.
This type (The Type II) usually starts in later life. However, today, people in their 20s are even at risk. Countless number of young adults have been diagnosed of having the disease.
Though it may not be practically possible to fully prevent Diabetes Melitus, regular check-up is a sure way of arresting the disease early to avoid early complications.
Putting your body weight under check and regular exercise are also effective ways of preventing a lot of diseases.
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Written By Assandoh-Mensah Prince
(The author is a Registered Nurse, Health Promoter and Career Development Analyst. He has been a resource person at countless number of conferences and students platforms both on career developments and health promotion/education. You can contact him via WhatsApp on +233 (0) 241626446.