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The Dreaded Disease Diabetes

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Diabetes is a condition that has been in the forefront noncommuni­cable diseases in Fiji and in the Pacific Islands for many years now. We are all at risk and according to the Fiji Ministry of Health, one in every three Fijians or about 30% of the population, is being diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is the second biggest cause of death. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem, in 1980 there were 108 million people with diabetes worldwide. In 2015 there were 415 million. In three decades the prevalence has increased fourfold. It is projected that a staggering 642 million people will be affected by diabetes by 2040. So what is this dreaded diabetes? It is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. The hormone insulin produced by the pancreas is very important because it allows the glucose from blood to be used by the cells in the body. Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. This condition is most common presentati­on in children and young adults when they show symptoms of nausea, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, blurring of vision and excessive thirst. Type 1 diabetics need insulin injections several times a day to survive. We do not know the cause of this autoimmune reaction and Type 1 diabetes is not linked to risks that could be avoided. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is where the body does not produce enough insulin and there is resistance to the action of insulin. It represents about 85-90 % of all cases of diabetes and usually develops in people over the age of 45. However in recent years it is occurring more often in younger people and even children. Obesity has taken its toll. The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include a family history of the disease, being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, physical inactivity, poor diet, being over the age of 35, and originatin­g from the Pacific islands, Indian subcontine­nt or having a Chinese background. Many people with Type 2 diabetes display no symptoms apart from feelings of tiredness, lethargy, passing more urine and feeling more thirsty than normal. There is currently no cure for Type 2 Diabetes, however the condition can be managed through lifestyle changes and medication­s. Many Type 2 diabetics may ultimately require insulin therapy. As you can see, Type 2 diabetes is mainly a result of excessive body weight and insufficie­nt exercise. These are both preventabl­e and therefore we can all make positive lifestyle changes to curb this diabetes epidemic. At an individual level, making healthy food choices with reducing processed and packaged foods and increasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Incorporat­ing physical activity as part of everyday activity and 30-40 minutes of physical activity at least three or four times a week help reduce the risk of diabetes. At a community level, enforcing strict canteen guidelines in schools, encouragin­g children to take healthy food as opposed to junk food and encouragin­g more physical activity in schools helps these positive behaviours become an important part of the life of a child, who then grows up and carries these on into adulthood. Workplaces also need to foster a culture whereby the healthier choice is the easier choice. In addition, it is prudent that people get regular medical checkups and screening for their blood sugar level and blood pressure. Education is the key and if we can teach people to take their health into their own hands a lot of complicati­ons related to diabetes can be lessened. For those who already have diabetes, regular medical checkups and taking the medicines properly can help prevent or prolong the start of diabetes related complicati­ons such as kidney failure, lower limb amputation­s, blindness and heart disease. Wise words by Brian Carter who sums up the main cause of diabetes and non-communicab­le diseases “Your lifestyle – how you live, eat, emote and think – determines your health. To prevent disease, you may have to change how you live.”

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 ??  ?? DR. KRUPALI RATHOD TAPPOO is an Australian qualified General Practition­er, a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practition­ers and the Medical Coordinato­r for Fiji-based NGO Sai Prema Foundation. Dr. Krupali is based at Mitchells Clinic in Tappoocity Suva and has a special interest in women and children’s health.
DR. KRUPALI RATHOD TAPPOO is an Australian qualified General Practition­er, a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practition­ers and the Medical Coordinato­r for Fiji-based NGO Sai Prema Foundation. Dr. Krupali is based at Mitchells Clinic in Tappoocity Suva and has a special interest in women and children’s health.

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