Marked on 14th November each year, World Diabetes Day was established by the International Diabetes Federation in 1992. In 2006, the day was made an official United Nations (UN) day with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Sharing this day with the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who is the co-discoverer of insulin, World Diabetes Day is a global awareness campaign on the growing health and economic threat posed by diabetes.
What are the different diabetes types?
Diabetes is a chronic disease characterised by persistently elevated blood glucose levels (or blood sugar levels). The high glucose levels in blood vessels are affected by the presence and use of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood glucose. When insufficient insulin is produced or when the body cannot use insulin effectively, the excessive amount of glucose in blood vessels can harm other organ systems.
Diabetes is further separated into three types, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, type 1 diabetes is often genetic, where insulin-producing cells are damaged or destroyed so the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin. In this case, insulin must be injected into the body to help manage the condition.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body’s insulin production and processing function worsens by becoming more insulin-resistant. This condition is usually caused by poor lifestyle habits, diet or age. Most prevalent in Singapore and worldwide, type 2 diabetes often starts as prediabetes – where the blood glucose level is higher than average but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy because of hormones produced by the placenta, which affects the body’s insulin use. In most cases, this condition is temporary and goes away after delivery, but it may increase the potential risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Your doctor is likely to test for gestational diabetes during the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy, where lifestyle changes may be suggested to better protect you and your child’s health.
What are some symptoms of diabetes?
Diabetes can be hard to detect as its symptoms may not be immediately apparent, but some common signs include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Unintended weight loss or gain
- Increased hunger
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing of cuts or bruises
- Frequent yeast infections
- Irritability and mood swings
- Numb hands and feet
These symptoms are shared across all types of diabetes. However, patients suffering from type 1 diabetes may experience additional symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains at a younger age while patients with type 2 diabetes will show clearer signs only at a later stage.
If you experience one or more of the symptoms simultaneously, it is best to consult your family physician or visit the Osler Health clinic immediately for a health screening to get your blood sugar levels tested.
Treating and living with diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires lifelong management and attention. The primary goal of diabetes management is to maintain normal blood glucose levels, as well as minimise any potential health complications.
Some main strategies for managing diabetes include:
- Eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
- Regular physical activity
- Monitoring blood glucose levels regularly
- Test your blood sugar and keep a record of the results
- Recognise the signs of high or low blood sugar and what to do about it
How to prevent diabetes
Although type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes is largely preventable through an active lifestyle, balanced diet, and sufficient rest. Smoking and drinking should be avoided as smokers are roughly 50% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers and heavy drinkers can also increase diabetes risk.
Along with these healthy lifestyle changes, you can also take further precautions by going for regular health checks.
Ways Osler Health can help
From annual health check-ups for males and health screenings for females to individualised lifestyle recommendations, our family physicians team at Osler Health International provide comprehensive healthcare services. Knowledgeable in the diagnosis and management of diabetes, Osler Health medical professionals are experienced in helping diabetic patients lead a better quality of life.
Committed to helping you better manage the risk and signs of diabetes holistically, you may contact us or visit one of our clinics in Singapore. Osler Health clinics are located at Raffles Hotel Arcade and Star Vista.
Make an appointment today and take a proactive step towards achieving better health. For additional information on diabetes and other health issues, please visit Osler Health news to gain advice and health tips.