Understanding Diabetes: Signs and Symptoms and How to Control Sugar Level

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November 14 is observed as World Diabetes Day, globally symbolized by a ‘Blue Circle’. Diabetes Mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period.

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Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications, including serious long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.

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As of 2016, 422 million people had diabetes worldwide, up from an estimated 382 million people in 2013. In 2014, the International Diabetes Federation estimated that diabetes resulted in 4.9 million deaths worldwide.

Several other signs and symptoms can mark the onset of diabetes although they are not specific to the disease. In addition to the known ones above, the rest are blurry vision, headache, fatigue, slow healing of cuts, and itchy skin.

Diabetes is due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. Prevention and treatment involve maintaining a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, a normal body weight, and avoiding the use of tobacco.

Control of blood pressure and maintaining proper foot care are important for people with the disease. Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in excess is associated with an increased risk. The type of fats in the diet is also an important indicator, with saturated fats and Trans fats increasing the risk, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat decreasing the risk.

Eating lots of white rice may also increase the risk of diabetes. A lack of physical activity is believed to cause seven percent of the cases. People with diabetes can benefit from the available information about the disease and its treatment, and good nutrition to achieve normal body weight and exercise, with the goal of keeping both short- and long-term blood glucose levels within acceptable limits.

In addition, given the associated higher risks of cardiovascular disease, lifestyle modifications are recommended to control blood pressure.

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