Why do we have World Diabetes Awareness Day?
The purpose behind World Diabetes Day is to raise awareness of a condition that millions of people all around the world live with every day, including over 51 million people in the North American and the Caribbean region. It is held annually on November 14th, to commemorate the day scientists discovered insulin, back in 1921. This was an extraordinary discovery, because for the first time it gave those suffering from Type 1 diabetes, an illness dependent on insulin, a chance to survive this illness, It marked a big turning point in the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
Diabetes is an illness that is purely determined by the laboratory, because the diagnosis of diabetes is 100% dependent on the lab’s test result. A diabetes diagnosis can’t be made based on symptoms, but has to be done based on a blood sugar test. This makes diabetes a unique illness. Often times illnesses have other characteristics which then along, with the lab test, determine if a patient suffers from a certain illness. In the case of diabetes, it’s purely the laboratory test. Being able to trust that the laboratory produces trustworthy lab results, is essential.
But we don’t stop there. When it comes to diabetes, beyond diagnosis it’s also important to know the patient’s risk level for complications in the near future.
How do we monitor diabetes and possible related complications?
To determine a patient’s risk factors due to diabetes, we conduct a number of other lab tests, We check cholesterol levels, and other lipids, such as HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Also of high importance is checking the renal function to make sure the kidneys haven’t been affected by the diabetes. We do this through a blood test and a kidney function test.
Many of these check-ups are monitored on a regular basis. So once a medical professional has identified that a patient has diabetes, the patient’s status and his/ her risk profile is checked at that moment. Afterwards the patient has to return every 3 months for certain tests to make sure that he/ she is well monitored. One of the ways to do this is through the determination of the HbA1c triglycerides. Most diabetes patients are familiar with this test. Additionally, at least once a year we check the lipid functions, such as cholesterol and other lipids, to see if this needs working on, as well as the renal function. We measure the patient’s creatinine, to ensure the creatinine in the blood is relatively stable or if these levels have increased, which may be a sign of poor kidney function. A microalbumin test is used to detect early signs of kidney damage, in which case proteins can leak through the kidneys and exit the body in the urine. Periodical tests ascertain if these leaks have grown over time. These are check-ups that all diabetics have to go through at least once a year.
We’ve noticed that not many patients keep up with their periodical check-ups. There is definite room for improvement in patient compliance with regular check-ups to monitor the status of their diabetes, which is essential in helping to minimize the risk of complications due to this illness.
“Curaçao is one of the 23 countries of the IDF North America and Caribbean region. 537 million people have diabetes in the world and more than 51 million people in the NAC Region; by 2045 this will rise to 63 million. “
– The International Diabetes Federation
Diabetes in Curaçao and prevention?
The World Bank indicates the prevalence of Diabetes among 20 – 79 year old adults in Curaçao to be 11.7% in 2021. But the current numbers are likely to be much higher. On its website, last updated earlier this year, the International Diabetes Federation mentions prevalence of diabetes in adults in Curaçao (one of the 23 countries of the IDF NAC region) to be at 17.2%. These numbers indicate a staggering increase, and the likelihood that many of these adults also suffer from complications and factors associated with type 2 diabetes, is also high.
Prevention of diabetes and/or complications as a result of diabetes
In the olden days, diabetes was diagnosed by throwing urine on a stone and seeing if ants would flock to it. We’re more than 2000 years further now, and we are well aware of how this illness originates. For a very small portion of the population it’s due to the pancreas not producing insulin, However in the majority of people it’s due to insulin resistance and the biggest influencing factor for this is being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
This, however, is good news. If lifestyle choices can lead to type 2 diabetes, then a change in lifestyle reduces the chances. Here are some factors that help prevent developing type 2 diabetes:
- Live a healthy lifestyle
- Get a proper night’s sleep
- Eat a healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes)
- Avoid stress
- Move and exercise (aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week)
- Stay active
These same tools can lead to minimizing the chances of complications due to diabetes. If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes, leading a healthy lifestyle can go a long way. Here are some essential tips:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Eat at regular intervals
- Practice portion control
- Reduce stress
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Move and exercise
- Stay active
- Take the medication prescribed by your doctor
- Comply with regular lab check-ups
Your health is in your hands
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Dr. Robert Wever – Clinical Chemist MLS https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.DIAB.ZS?locations=CW https://idf.org/our-network/regions-members/north-america-and-caribbean/members/60-curacao.html