Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a chronic health problem affecting the way in which food is utilized to make energy.

DIABETES MELLITUS FAQs

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a chronic health problem affecting the way in which food is utilized to make energy.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a chronic health problem affecting the way in which food is utilized to make energy. It is a multisystem disease since the elevated blood sugars eventually affect almost every tissue in the body.

What causes Diabetes Mellitus?

There are various types of diabetes mellitus, but the underlying problem is either a deficiency in insulin or the inability of the body to effectively respond to this insulin or a mixture of both.

A combination of multiple factors play a role in giving rising to diabetes mellitus, but despite advances in science, the exact cause remains a mystery.

Genetics, lifestyle (diet, lack of physical activity, alcohol use, etc.), certain infections, medications including steroids, advancing age, toxins, pregnancy, other hormonal disorders, are among the many risk factors and contributors of this ‘modern world pandemic’.

Can Diabetes Mellitus be prevented?

Not everyone will escape the wrath of this monster, but majority of adult onset and some forms of early onset diabetes can be delayed or even prevented altogether with a few simple lifestyle interventions, even in the presence of strong genetics.

Healthy diets with portion control, regular physical activity including avoidance of long periods without physical movement, in addition to, avoiding cigarette smoking and limiting or withholding alcohol as well as taking medications such as steroids only under supervision of a health expert, are some of the easiest and yet extremely useful ways proven to help prevent or delay diabetes and/or its complications.

I have just been diagnosed with diabetes, am I going to die? What should I do? I am very anxious

We are all at risk of developing diabetes mellitus. Having any of the above mentioned risks or being overweight puts one at a higher risk and regular screening may be necessary.

Once a person is diagnosed with or suspected to have diabetes, it is important to talk to your health care provider, who will discuss about the condition and assess for risk factors and possible causes as well as evaluate for the presence of possible complications and comorbidities.

At this stage some investigations may be necessary.

Any new diagnosis is stressful, but diabetes mellitus is particularly known to cause a lot of anxiety and stress to the patient as well as their loved ones. This is because it may require multiple changes in our daily routines, including long term adjustments to our eating habits. Food is not just a biological requirement but a social and cultural one too, such changes can become stressors and give rise to anxiety and depressive disorders. This makes it important to have a session or more with a diabetes educator and/or a psychotherapist who can make the transition easier. These interventions have been shown to significantly improve short and long term outcomes both in terms of blood glucose control and glucose related complications as well as mental health and overall quality of life.

Early diagnosis and well controlled blood sugars in the initial months and years will help prevent/delay both short term and long term complications. These complications include untimely death, stroke, heart failure and myocardial infarction, kidney failure, mental illness, amputations and loss of vision, among others.

MEDICATION AND TREATMENT

If I start using insulin to treat my diabetes then that means I have failed

Using insulin does not mean you have failed.  Diabetes, being a progressive illness, affects the production of insulin by the pancreas. Although tablets may work, the doctor may need to supplement the treatment with insulin

Sometimes we may need to start treatment with insulin when one has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in order to bring the sugars down quickly and slow down or prevent the development of complications. Once you have reached the target we have set for you, then we can gradually reduce the insulin dose as you continue with the tablets.

The insulin needle is big and the injections will be very painful

Early on in the treatment of diabetes, needles used were large but in the recent years, the needles used, especially with the insulin pens are small and relative painless.

Once you start to experience pain with a pen device, you may need to change the pen as it may have become blunt. Needles should be changed after every 3rd to 4th use.

Can I stop taking medication once my blood glucose is normal?

No.  The work of the medication is to keep the glucose under control. Once you stop, the glucose levels will rise and we will need to restart the medication, possibly even at higher doses.

Lifestyle changes, which include a good diet and exercise plan, will help in controlling blood glucose and making the body more sensitive to insulin.

Will the medication I take affect my kidney?

As long as there is no evidence of kidney dysfunction, the medication you take for diabetes mellitus will preserve or sometimes improve your kidney function.

Once kidney dysfunction is detected, your doctor and pharmacist may need to adjust the dose or withdraw some medications which may be toxic to the kidneys. There are a number of medications used to treat diabetes that are safe even in the presence of kidney dysfunction’

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