Whether you’re a newly diagnosed diabetic or been dealing with it like a boss for years, chances are that you’ve come across many who misunderstand and stereotype this potentially deadly disease.
For starters, thin people can also get diabetes (being overweight is one big risk factor for type 2 diabetes and just anyone can get type 1 diabetes). To think that eating donuts alone will give you either type of diabetes or leading a sugar-free life will protect you from it, is a gross over-simplification of this complicated disease.
Diabetes impacts the patient mentally as well as physically by high and low blood sugars and it can have potentially dangerous consequences if not managed properly.
On this World Diabetes Day, pledge to stop instagramming pictures of calorie-dense food with #DiabetesOnAPlate - it’s a misnomer. Mithais and butter chicken alone cannot give you this disease, instead know these basic truths about diabetes which affects 65 million Indians:
1. Diabetes is a silent disease.
2. There are three types of diabetes, type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder, affecting children and adolescents, where the pancreas produce little or no insulin at all. Type 2 is a lifestyle disorder where a combination of genetics, age, weight, no physical activity can force the pancreas to not produce sufficient insulin (or the body does not use the insulin properly). 4% pregnant women develop gestational diabetes in their second trimester of pregnancy - unlike type 1 and 2, mostly the gestational diabetes disappears after delivery but raises the chances of a woman getting type 2 later in life.
3. Typical symptoms are excessive hunger, excessive thirst and excessive urination, which are easily missed or mistaken for something else.
4. Your fasting blood sugar >126 mg and 2 hours post meal sugar >200 mg lands you in the diabetic zone.
5. Type 2 diabetes calls for a major overhaul of lifestyle with strict dietary changes and physical exercise.
6. Sugar is not just in your bakery items. Fruit juices, ketchup, white bread are all sugar and processed bombs. Even though whole fruits are healthy, diabetic cannot have as much as they want. Discuss with your doctor on the amount, frequency and type you should eat.
7. Doctors will prescribe medications in the form of tablets or injections, which have to be taken before, with or after meals as suggested.
8. Diabetics don’t need to eat special meals - a wholesome diet rich in fibers, low in saturated and trans fats based on lean meat, non-starchy vegetables is nutritious for the full family.
9. You must do blood sugar tests (fasting and 2 hours post meal) every month and HbA1C levels every 3 months.
10. It is best for every diabetic patient to do SMBG (self monitoring of blood glucose) at home, especially patients who are on insulin injections.
11. The devices for SMBG are readily available in the market.
12. Only blood sugar levels give true picture of your diabetic status. You can do urine sugar test from time to time, however, sugar in the urine is present only if blood sugar levels are very high.
13. Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart diseases go hand-in-hand.
14. Yearly check up of eyes, kidneys and heart are mandatory to rule out complications of diabetes.
15. You must visit your doctor every 3 months.
(Dr Niruta Sharma is a Chief Medical Officer in Cardiology Department of RML Hospital, New Delhi. She can be reached out on Twitter @nirutasharma).