Living with Diabetes – the facts

The rapid rise of diabetes around the world prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation to launch a day to commemorate people living with diabetes. World Diabetes Day, which is marked every year on 14 November, brings awareness to a global audience on understanding the realities of living with diabetes.

The founding of World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day (WDD) was created in 1991 in celebration of the Birthday of Sir Frederick Banting on 14 November, who co-discovered insulin with Charles Best in 1922. The campaign runs on various themes, with this year\’s theme being Education to protect tomorrow. The campaign is represented by a blue circle logo which signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes epidemic. Education can help stop the rise of diabetes and protect tomorrow. 

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic, long-lasting, health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Normally, your body breaks down most of the food you eat into sugar (glucose) then releases it into your bloodstream. Your blood sugar goes up, prompting the pancreas to release the hormone insulin, which moves the sugar into your cells where it can be stored or used as energy.

When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or it cannot use the insulin as well as it should to regulate your blood sugar. Too much blood sugar in your bloodstream can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease over time.

People living with diabetes

One in ten adults globally are living with diabetes, (that is an estimated 537 million people) and almost half do not know they have diabetes. Lack of awareness puts a strain on healthcare systems, as healthcare professionals could likely aid in detecting and diagnosing the disease early and ensuring they provide the best possible advice and care for people living with diabetes.

Signs of diabetes

The warning signs of diabetes can go undetected, because they are easy to miss and may not seem out of the ordinary. Common signs to look out for include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbing or tingling in your hands and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Skin that is very itchy or dry
  • Wounds that don’t heal quickly

You may experience one or more of the warning signs associated with diabetes.  You may discover a diagnosis after visiting your doctor for another condition or for routine blood work. It’s important to contact your doctor for an appointment if you experience any symptoms, especially if you have  a family history of the disease. This makes it more likely that you will develop the condition. 

Managing diabetes

There isn’t a cure for diabetes. Eating healthy food, maintaining your weight and being active can help in managing the condition. The power of lifestyle change ensures that you are able to treat, prevent and maintain chronic illnesses. Diabetes can be treated in several ways using medications from your doctor. Depending on the type of diabetes you have you may need to take insulin for the rest of your life.

The importance of support

It’s never easy to suffer alone, so it’s important to support family members or friends who are living  with diabetes by being open to the kind of help they want. You can offer them mental and emotional support to ease the stress of living with a chronic illness. Show your support by being educated about the disease. Offer to be a workout buddy, or offer a variety of foods appropriate to their diet even if they’re just visiting. 

Shining the light on Diabetes awareness helps with early detection. It also ensures that access to affordable and uninterrupted care and treatment is distributed to people suffering from the disease globally. You can get involved by taking a selfie with the diabetes awareness circle logo and sharing your story online. Use the following hashtags #worlddiabetesday and #educationtoprotect.

Living with diabetes: Sources


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