A question for you: Did you know half of all people living with diabetes are undiagnosed?
The International Diabetes Federation reports that more than 425 million people worldwide are currently living with diabetes.
That means at least 212 million people don’t know they have some form of the disease – a staggering amount. With today being World Diabetes Day, now is the time to raise awareness of a disease that afflicts so many.
What is Diabetes?
So first thing’s first, diabetes is defined as a lifelong illness where a person’s blood sugar level is too high.
There are two common forms of the disease – type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas does not make any insulin, and is usually diagnosed in childhood or early teens.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin or it no longer works effectively to reduce blood sugar levels.
The symptoms of both types commonly include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Lack of energy
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing wounds
- Numbness in feet and hands
These symptoms can be mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes.
Family and Diabetes
Diabetes has the power to affect not only the person in question, but everyone around them – the most affected are family members.
To provide some insight, the cost of insulin can consume half a family’s average disposable income, with access to regular diabetes medications out of reach for far too many.
What’s more, less than one in four family members has access to diabetes education programs, which makes managing the disease that little bit tougher. To successfully manage diabetes involves regular treatment, a healthy lifestyle, constant monitoring, and continuing education.
It shouldn’t be underestimated the effect family support can play in the management of diabetes. Therefore, it is important that the right treatments, care and education be accessible to all people with diabetes and their families.
How Diabetes is Treated and Prevented
Presently, there is no cure for diabetes. However, as previously mentioned, steps can be taken to control and manage the disease.
Naturally, treating diabetes depends on which type you have. Type 1 requires insulin injections, dietary changes and frequent exercise. The cornerstone of type 2 diabetes treatment is a healthy diet, increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight. Oral medication, such as metformin, and insulin are also frequently prescribed to help control blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
There are many ways to prevent diabetes, especially type 2, and in most cases that involves taking up a healthy lifestyle. Simple measures taken within the home can make a huge difference. For instance, eating healthy meals as a family or exercising together can both go a long way in preventing the disease.
Despite there being no cure, extensive efforts in clinical research have been made over the last few decades to find the answer.
Clinical Research within Diabetes
Recently, regenerative medicine company ViaCyte began clinical trials for its PEC-Direct device, a small implant that uses insulin-producing cells created by stem cells.
Designed for patients with type 1 diabetes, earlier research indicated the implants demonstrated a mechanism of action within patients’ bodies. As it stands, two cohorts of patients have enrolled into the trial, and by year’s end, the company hopes to show definitive evidence of efficacy.
While strides are being made to combat type 1 diabetes, another trial took place in 2017 for type 2 diabetes where close to 300 volunteers took part in a weight management program. According to Science Alert, patients were mandated to consume a maximum of 850 calories a day for three to five months. Encouragingly, those who lost the most weight were found in remission, a potential breakthrough with huge ramifications.
Ultimately, World Diabetes Day is here to spread awareness and give hope for those affected. With help from organizations like the International Diabetes Federation, year-round awareness and support is provided, with assistance from educational schemes.
That’s the key word – education. For families dealing with the disease in their homes, understand the steps needed to ensure your family member gets the best treatment possible. And while the fight against diabetes remains ongoing, recent scientific advancements provide hope a cure will one day be found.
*To learn more about the effects of diabetes, visit http://discoverdiabetes.idf.org/