Diabetes is a very common issue that many of us are facing in the current time. Diabetes can be defined as a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels in blood sugar or blood glucose.
A report by the World Health Organization shows that 442 million people worldwide have diabetes, particularly in countries having low and middle incomes.
To know more about issues relating to diabetes, Fit Northeast had a conversation with a city-based diabetologist, Dr Rohini Kumari Sarma.
Excerpts of the interview:
Fit Northeast: When people realize that they have diabetes, they tend to think that life has come to a stand-still as they will no longer be able to have sweets and will have to stay under restrictions. What is your take on that?
Dr Sarma: Diabetes can be said to be a lifestyle disorder. The patients need comprehensive treatment. Treating or curing diabetes is an interactive approach for the patients, their families and the doctors as well. It is very important for the patient to adhere to the proper treatment.
As doctors, our are objectives depend on life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Life means we have to normalize the sugar of the patient to decrease the disability and death. Liberty means we have to decrease associated co-morbidities like blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol.
The pursuit of happiness means patients' acceptability should increase. The more the patient accepts that yes, he/she has this disease, and the easier is to control the co-morbidity and diabetes also. The involvement of the patient and their family is very important.
Fit Northeast: Is diabetes a hereditary disease? Is there a chance that some medicines might give trigger the sugar level in the body and give rise to diabetes?
Dr Sarma: There is a hereditary factor associated with diabetes. If first-degree relatives like parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers are affected with diabetes, there is an increased risk of diabetes. This is a non-modifiable risk factor. We have to check sugar more frequently.
There are definitely some medicines that are associated with diabetes. In this covid time, many people had to take steroids, which is the main risk factor for diabetes. Even in diabetes patients, it increases sugar levels. In non-diabetes patients, it increases sugar. Apart from steroids, there are some medicines that are used to control blood pressure levels, urological problems and some oral contraceptives are also associated with an increase in sugar levels in the body and the development of diabetes.
Fit Northeast: What is the borderline of diabetes?
Treating or curing diabetes is an interactive approach for the patients, their families and the doctors as well. It is very important for the patient to adhere to the proper treatment.Dr Sarma: The normal sugar levels for a non-diabetes patient is when their fasting blood sugar level is less than 110 and the post-prandial is less than 114.
Fit Northeast: People who are obese are prone to many diseases. Is diabetes one of them?
Dr Sarma: Yes, there is a term called Metabolic-Syndrome. It includes diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol. Obesity causes to increase in adipose tissues in the body and that leads to pancreatic beta cells dysfunction. It develops increased insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. So there is a stage of hyper-insulinemia in the body but that insulin cannot be utilized by normal tissue cells because of insulin resistance.
Obesity is one of the main causes of that insulin resistance.
Fit Northeast: Some people have the habit of having different alternatives of sugar like sugar-free and other artificial sweeteners. Is that safe for them?
Dr Sarma: When one is diagnosed with diabetes, we ask them to cut down the entire sugar source. Initially, they can take artificial sweeteners with daily indicated doses by the Food and Drug Association of India. But it can definitely be used in the long run.
Fit Northeast: In some cases, we see that people who suffer from diabetes get a swollen leg. How can it be prevented?
Dr Sarma: Foot care is very important in diabetes. Foot ulcer in diabetes patient is very prone and frequent if they have uncontrolled blood sugar. They should not walk barefoot outside as diabetes is associated with neuropathy. Sometimes they don't get the sensation of heat or cold and might get a foot ulcer. They should keep on checking if there is any swelling, scar, any development of corn or callus in the feet. They should never try to remove the corn by themselves. They should wear proper footwear preferably the ones with the soft sole and avoid flat sandals.
Fit Northeast: How diabetes affects the body organs?
Dr Sarma: Yes, it affects many vital organs of the body like the Kidney, eyes (it decreases the vision and involves the retina), it causes neuropathy, and it increases the risk of heart failure, stroke, foot ulcer, skin liaison.
Fit Northeast: Would you like to give any advice to our readers?
Dr Sarma: We all are familiar with the phrase which says prevention is better than cure. Diabetes is a progressive disorder, so we have to see many things. If there is a genetic risk, we must keep checking the sugar from an early stage. Nutrition plays an important role and must be taken care of.
People should generally start checking their sugar levels at the age of 30 but ones with the co-morbidity should keep checking more frequently.