Mariah Akinyi, Youth Advocate.
Extreme fatigue, feeling very thirsty, blurry vision, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, feeling very hungry (even though one is eating), itchy skin, red and/or swollen gums, numbness or tingling especially in the feet and hands, are just but a few of the symptoms that accompany individuals who diabetes has gotten the better part of them. Doctors around the world have described diabetes as a group of metabolic diseases in which the patient has a high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because the insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin or both. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the level of sugar in the blood i.e. it helps to keep the blood sugar level from getting too high or too low and is produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets. Diabetes, just like any other Non-Communicable Disease (NCD), can cause great discomfort to the victim and deprive them of their happiness as the normal operations of the body will be affected.
There are three types of diabetes that are known; Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and Gestational diabetes. Under Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Patients with this type of diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. Under Type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the body cells do not react to insulin. Most of the cases of diabetes worldwide are of Type 2. Gestational diabetes affects females during pregnancy. These are mostly women with very high levels of glucose in their blood and their bodies are not able to produce enough insulin to combat the blood sugar levels.
In as much as all people are at risk of developing diabetes, some are at much higher risk than others. These include obese and overweight individuals whose weight leads their bodies to produce chemicals that can destabilize the body’s metabolic functions. Those who are usually inactive and continually take the wrong diet are also at the risk of developing diabetes and especially Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is untreatable and it is unfortunate that patients affected by it have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by exercising a lot, controlling one’s body weight and taking in the right diet especially fruits and vegetables.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya is estimated to be at 3.3% and by 2025 it is predicted to rise to 4.5%. Diabetes is a threatening factor in the country and so the government should ensure that a proper funding structure is put in place in our hospitals for effectively combating the disease. People should also be educated on proper feeding habits in order to keep diabetes at bay.