Healthcare and general well-being have come a long way in the modern world. With medications, specialized doctors, advanced procedures and a general awareness of the importance of health, humanity has come a long way. However, a few points of concern remain, such as the effect of our current lifestyle on our long-term well-being. Of all the chronic diseases plaguing the modern corporate professional such as issues with heart health, chronic anxiety and hypertension, diabetes is a truly insidious one.
What is Diabetes?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is a chronic disease that affects your body's ability to turn food into energy properly. Most of the food we eat is broken down into sugar and released into the bloodstream. When the blood sugar increases, it is a signal for the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
In patients suffering from diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t utilize the insulin it makes as well as it should. This causes too much blood sugar to stay in the bloodstream, unused for energy. Over the course of time, this stagnant blood sugar causes serious health problems.
According to Dr. Lavanya Aribandi - ekincare's Chief Medical Officer - about 11.8% of Indians suffer from diabetes, which is about 73 million people! Diabetes affects every other aspect of a person's health. Be it the low quality of life due to restrictions on food, risk of complications due to the lack of proper insulin production by the body, or any number of other factors.
It is important for everyone to be aware of the impact diabetes has on one's lifestyle and overall health.
Important facts to remember
Two types of Diabetes - Type-1 diabetes is categorized as an autoimmune disorder, wherein the body attacks itself by mistake and prevents the body from making insulin. This is a rare form of the disease which affects about 5-10% of patients. This form of diabetes is most often seen in children, teenagers and young adults (till the age of 20 years). Type-2 diabetes is the more prevalent form of the disease, usually affecting adults above 20 years of age. The body cannot use insulin produced within the body properly, and thus the patient can’t keep blood sugar at acceptable levels. This form of the disease affects about 90% of patients.
COVID-19 and Diabetes - According to the American Diabetes Association and the CDC, people with diabetes are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19. As the body is unable to create insulin and convert food to energy properly, a taxing illness such as COVID-19 can severely affect the quality of life and damage the immune system of diabetes patients.
Risk factors for diabetes - Being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, having a sedentary lifestyle, having a history of hypertension, increase in age. These are a few of the most commonly found characteristics which increase the risk of diabetes in patients.
Complications due to diabetes - If left untreated or not treated correctly, diabetes can exponentially raise the risk of long term complications. These complications include but are not limited to - heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, eye damage, and even neurological damage. Diabetes reduces the ability of the body to heal itself, which often leads to chronic wounds which can become infected and eventually may need surgical intervention.
Control and prevention of Diabetes
Preventive measures: As diabetes usually affects people with sedentary lifestyles and bad diets, these factors must be controlled to the best of their ability. As we age, the body becomes naturally more susceptible to chronic illnesses if left unchecked.
Stepathons and regular exercise - When creating a healthy habit, it is best to make it as accessible as possible. Stepathons are a great way to get started on your health journey with a gamified approach to walking. The competitive nature of the stepathons will also propel you towards higher levels of exercise and make it a fun aspect of your fitness journey.
Family doctor consultations - A personal family doctor knows your entire medical history and lifestyle habits. This leads to better consultations and a health plan that suits your needs.
Annual Health Checks (AHCs) - To prevent chronic illnesses of any kind, a regular check up is mandatory. Annual Health Checks can help you stay up to date with your health needs and the current status of your health as well.
Four important pillars in treatment: While prevention is always better than cure, it is important to know what to do once someone is affected with the disease. The following are the four most important factors when undergoing treatment for diabetes:
Good dietary intake & proper meal planning - Controlling and planning out a daily diet chart is helpful in reducing cravings and hunger pangs which may accompany diabetes.
Regular exercise - Even when suffering from diabetes, the importance of a good exercise routine cannot be overstated. Exercise gets the blood pumping, and helps in overall well-being and improved quality of life for patients.
Taking medications on time - Timely intake of medicine helps the body become used to the routine and reduces the ill effects of diabetes.
Monitoring blood sugar regularly - This is an extremely important step that helps in tracking one’s health and keeps the patient aware of their changing needs when it comes to medication or lifestyle habits.
Following these four pillars will help patients in creating a shared plan with a trained physician to improve the quality of life and reduce the chances of complications due to diabetes in the long-term.
Life with a chronic illness is difficult. Especially with a disease like diabetes, your own body is fighting against your ability to feel energetic. While prevention is better than cure and a healthy lifestyle is best of all, sometimes our hectic lives can leave concerns about health and wellness by the wayside until it is too late. The facts and strategies mentioned in this post aim to help create awareness about the dangers of diabetes as a life-long disease. It’s in everyone’s best interest to be aware of the risks, causes and prevention strategies before they are affected by such a disease. Moreover, having access to a comprehensive health benefits platform can also help users access preventive healthcare options.