Thursday April 7th is World Health Day and the focus this year is on halting the rise of diabetes worldwide. The World Health Organisation(WHO) is calling for an increased awareness of the condition, it’s prevention and treatment and the staggering burden and consequences of Type 2 Diabetes in particular.
According to their figures, the WHO estimates that about 422 million people worldwide have diabetes and that this number is likely to more than double in the next 20 years. Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90% of all cases worldwide. The aim of the WHO is to trigger a set of specific, affordable and effective actions to tackle the condition. These will include steps to prevent diabetes and to diagnose, treat and care for people suffering from it.
In 2012 diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths worldwide with more than 80% of these deaths occurring in low and middle income countries. An additional 2.2.million deaths were caused in the same year by higher than optimal levels of blood glucose resulting in an increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.
There are 2 major forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is characterised by a lack of insulin production whereas type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. While type 1 is not linked to lifestyle and cannot be prevented, type 2 is often, but not always, brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle.
A large proportion of type 2 diabetes and its complications can be prevented by eating a healthy diet, taking part in regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and by avoiding tobacco use.
Early diagnosis and intervention is essential for a good long term future with the condition. The longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse their health outcomes are likely to be. Therefore it is essential to be aware of the common symptoms to look out for:
The two types of diabetes
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
- Feeling very thirsty
- Urinating more often than usual, especially at night
- Feeling exhausted or very tired
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision and headaches
- Cuts or wounds that heal very slowly
- Itching around the penis or vagina or frequent episodes of thrush
The signs and symptoms often develop over a number of years and this means that you may have the condition without realising it. If you are at all unsure, speak to your GP as early diagnosis may reduce your risk of developing complications later on.
These complications may develop in many parts of the body and include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, vision loss and nerve damage. Therefore, it is essential to try to make simple changes to your lifestyle to prevent long term health problems. As little as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise several times a week and a balanced healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk of developing the condition.
If you would like to read more of our articles on diabetes, click on the Health & Wellbeing Menu at the top of our Home Page or click on the link below to our feature on a new NHS initiative to offer healthy lifestyle advice to people at risk of developing the condition: