World Diabetes Day

Creating awareness about diabetes through campaign

November 14 is marked as the World Diabetes Day around the world. This day is observed to make people aware and understand the danger and threat of diabetes. Diabetes is still an incurable, life-threatening and killer disease. This disease gradually and slowly damages the different vital organs of our body, makes us weak and ultimately leads us to death. It is spreading very alarmingly and engulfing the whole humankind on the globe. A vast number of people around the world suffer from it and die of the deadly disease annually. A large number of people suffer from this disease for lack of awareness and knowledge and die premature and miserable deaths. 

Realizing the dire and deadly consequences of diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation created the World Diabetes Day in 1991.  Later, Diabetes Day became officially a United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of the United Nation Resolution 61/ 225.   Like other countries, Bangladesh as a member country to the United Nations Organization, observes today the World Diabetes Day in accordance with the theme of the year and pays honor to the occasion. 

The theme of the world diabetes day of this year (2019) is “Family and diabetes” the theme aims at creating awareness and consciousness among the family members about the threat of diabetes. If all the members of the families of the country can be made aware of the formidableness and severity of diabetes, the people can largely save themselves from the curse of diabetes. Hence, the day is observed globally in order to awaken the people through discussions, meeting, processions and rallies. In this case, Bangladesh is not an exception. Different organizations at public and private levels of Bangladesh, celebrate the day in order to create awareness among people about the fatal disease diabetes. The radio and television put up special programs on the day. The print media also highlight the significance of the day. These sorts of progammes enlighten the people as to how they can change their life styles, food habits and can avoid the unhealthy food to keep themselves away from diabetes.

Diabetes and major symptoms: Diabetes is the insulin-related physical unhealthy condition of human body. When we take food, it becomes digested and the digested food to some extent turns into glucose. This glucose goes into blood but cannot go into the body cells for energy because of a lack of insulin production in the pancrease. The body cells get energy from glucose.  However, the cells of our body depend on insulin (a kind of body hormone) to produce energy in our body. In case or for any reason, the insulin is not produced, or the produced insulin does not get in our body cells, and the body cells cannot produce energy, we feel uneasy and ill. This insulin related uneasy problematic physical condition is diabetes.  

The symptoms of diabetes include excessive urination, great thirst, hunger, and loss of weight and energy, feeling weak etc. These symptoms may occur and appear gradually and even may be unnoticed.

Kinds of diabetes:  The term diabetes refers to the name of two kinds of diseases that have the same symptoms.  One is diabetes mellitus, a common disease in which the body cannot use glucose /sugar normally. The body of a   diabetic person is slow in using glucose, and so glucose builds up in the blood. In this kind of diabetes, the kidneys discharge excess glucose into the urine. In severe cases of diabetes, fats and proteins cannot be used normally. Once most doctors believed that all cases of diabetes were caused by a lack of hormone insulin, which is produced by our pancrease, enables the body to use and store glucose quickly.

The other kind of the disease is diabetes insipidus, which appears because of the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that functions abnormally. Diabetes insipidus is a disease in which kidneys cannot retain water that passes to them from the blood. The patients urinate excessively and become extremely thirsty. The disease is caused by a lack of vasopressin, a hormone that controls the amount of water leaving the body as urine. Vasopressin is made by hypothalamus and is stored in and released by the pituitary gland. A disease or injury that affects the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland can cause this condition. Most cases of diabetes insipidus cannot be cured, but the disease can be kept under control by taking vasopressin.

Types of diabetics: Based on the production of insulin in the diabetics, they can be categorized into Type 1 diabetics, and Type 2 diabetics.  The diabetics who cannot produce insulin but do lack insulin are called the Type I diabetics or insulin dependent diabetics.  On the other hand, many diabetes patients especially those who become diabetics after the age 40 have normal or in some cases even above normal production of insulin. Their bodies do not respond efficiently to the insulin. Doctors call those diabetics as Type II diabetics. This Type II diabetic is also called non-insulin-dependant diabetes. Over 425 million people are currently suffering from diabetes in the world. Most of the cases are Type II diabetes and largely preventive.

Causes of diabetes:  Researches are still going on to find out the causes for which people suffer from diabetes. Some people have family history of diabetes while others do not have any known history of diabetes, yet they are seen suffering from diabetes. Many researchers suspect people inherit a tendency of developing Type II diabetes. Besides hereditary cause of diabetes, it may develop and occur because of additional factors such as severe stress, excessive obesity, and sedentary work, lack of physical movement or exercise. Some doctors believe that Type I diabetes also involves hereditary traits. These traits possibly cause the body’s disease fighting immune system to respond to certain viral infection by mistakenly attacking the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. 

Complications of diabetes: If diabetes is not properly and timely treated, this disease may lead to serious complications. For example, diabetes may cause change in blood vessels of the retina, and this condition is called the diabetic retinopathy. When the condition   of retinopathy worsens, it may cause blindness. Diabetes may cause similar changes in the blood vessels of the kidney, and this condition is called diabetic nephropathy. This diabetic nephropathy may lead to kidney failure. Moreover, diabetes may affect our nerves. This complicated condition of nerves is called the diabetic neuropathy. This diabetic neuropathy may cause loss of feeling and abnormal sensations in different parts of the body. Diabetes also may lead to arteriosclerosis, which means the hardening of the arteries.  These hardening arteries may cause a stroke, heart failure, or gangrene.

Treatment of diabetes: Diabetes is still a life long disease. It cannot be cured, but proper treatment and observation of health rules can improve a patient’s condition considerably. Many diabetics live almost as long as period of normal health. Type I diabetics need to receive daily dose of insulin each day. For effective results, the insulin that is inserted into the body skin needs to be absorbed in bloodstream. Insulin cannot be taken orally because it is destroyed in the digestive system.  The doses of insulin prescribed by the doctors depend on the patients’ diet and exercising habit. If a diabetic stops taking needed insulin, then the amount of glucose in the blood may become excessive. This excessive blood glucose/sugar results in diabetic ketoacidosis, and the patient may go into diabetic coma.

Type I diabetics must maintain the planned diets consisting of planned amount of carbohydrate, fats and proteins. He must undergo regular medical check up of blood sugar, urine, blood creatinine. He must keep his body weight, fats, and obesity under control. A diabetic must have a planned moderate healthy diet—except he or she has an insulin reaction, or insulin shock. This condition occurs when the effect of insulin is so great that the level of sugar in the blood becomes too low. In this condition, the patient may perspire greatly and becomes nervous, weak or even unconscious. The condition can be treated quickly by having the patient eat food that is rich in sugar. Many diabetic carry chocolates or sugar with them in case of an insulin reaction.

Type II diabetics may control their diabetes by a diet low in calories. Some Type II diabetic whose condition cannot be controlled by diet alone have to use insulin or oral drugs that reduces the level of glucose in the blood. This oral drug may have some slight side effects.

Conclusion: In fine, it may be said that diabetes is not a curable disease. Once a person has developed diabetes, he or she will have to suffer throughout his or her life until a cure is invented for its full recovery. In perspective of such a condition, every person should follow the discipline in life to avoid the killer disease diabetes. Regular exercise such as walking, running, cycling swimming should be done. Moderate but balanced and healthy diet and pure drinking water should be taken. We have to remember, ‘prevention is better than cure.’ We must be forearmed and fore-guarded in our life style, food habits so that we can save ourselves from the curse of diabetes. Diabetes is going to spread more and more, and if we fail to control diabetes, it will before long, have the epidemic form. But happily, diabetes is not a contagious disease. It does not spread from personal contact. It grows within a person out of disorder in body function. We must make people including our family members aware of the danger of diabetes. Once the people are fully conscious and aware of the approach of diabetes, they can largely save themselves and the nation from the grip of diabetes. In this connection, we may mention that nobody should take any medicine of diabetes without the recommendation of a qualified doctor.

However, let us hope for those golden days when the world will have the time free from diabetes.

The writer is a former Joint Secretary to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and regular 

contributor to Bangladesh Post