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 Diabetes; a non-communicable disease that happens to be ranked amongst the top ten killer diseases.

 Imagine a pear, a flat pear. That is what the pancreas looks like. The pancreas is a gland that plays a very important role when it comes to digestion which means it plays a big role in matters concerning diabetes. 

Let’s dive into a bit of biology. What comes to mind when you hear the word “diabetes”? Sugar most likely. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin which is responsible for breaking down the sugars in the food we take. The broken-down sugar is used by cells for energy.

When blood sugar is not at the right levels over a prolonged period, diabetes is likely to develop. Diabetes means the pancreas doesn’t produce enough or any insulin therefore the sugar is not properly broken down. 

Globally, one in ten people has diabetes. 3.3 percent of the Kenyan population has Diabetes, this is according to the National Diabetes Report Strategy 2013-2015. The statistics are key but here are six important things to know about Diabetes: 

Main Types of Diabetes 

There are three main types of diabetes; Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. 

Diabetes is mostly associated with a poor diet, especially one with a lot of sugar. However, type 1 diabetes, which is diagnosed in children and adolescents, is an autoimmune disease that has no relation to diet. 

Type 2 diabetes is normally associated with obesity but it is not the only cause of type 2 diabetes. Other causes are genetic factors, the natural rise of blood sugar as a result of age, alcohol intake, smoking, lack of exercise, and stress.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that consists of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. This type tends to bring complications to both mother and child.

Unlike Type1 and 2, gestational diabetes usually disappears after pregnancy. However, women affected and their children are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on. 

Complications as a result of Diabetes 

Diabetes in its early stages is commonly ignored especially when there are no symptoms. Untreated diabetes however can lead to severe complications or death.

Complications that may arise as a result of diabetes include blindness, kidney and nerve damage, heart and blood vessel disease, Hearing impairment, slow healing, skin conditions, Alzheimer’s, and sleep apnea. 

Complete diabetes care and regular monitoring by a healthcare professional go a long way in reducing the risk of more serious complications. 

Dietary Requirements of a Diabetic 

Eat right rather than eat less is not a phrase you will hear often in diabetic circles but it is true. Nutrition is the mainstay of diabetes treatment. Adopting a healthy eating plan is non-negotiable for anyone with diabetes.

If you have diabetes, ensure that you consult a nutritionist so you can adopt a healthy meal plan. A nutritionist will help in maintaining a balanced diet that consists of all food groups but in the right proportions. The upside will be that you are not restricted but rather taught to eat in moderation. 

Covid-19 and Diabetes 

Older people and those with diabetes and other pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.

Viral infections for those with diabetes are harder to treat due to blood glucose level fluctuations and, sometimes, the presence of diabetes complications. Reasons for this could be a compromised immune system. This makes it difficult to fight the virus and may lead to a longer recovery period. Another reason is that the virus may thrive in an environment with high blood glucose. 

Cost of Diabetes in Kenya 

On average, diabetics have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than medical expenditures in the absence of diabetes. A study was done in five public health facilities in two counties where diabetics aged 18 years and above took part. 

It was found that the mean annual direct patient cost was KES 53,907. This cost included medicine, transport, user charges, and food. The mean annual indirect cost was KES 23,174. Needless to say, diabetes is an expensive disease to have. 

The Global Diabetes Compact 

The WHO (World Health Organization) marked World Diabetes Day in 2021 by announcing the Global Diabetes Compact. This is a comprehensive and inclusive approach meant to support countries in implementing programs to prevent and manage diabetes. The Compact aims to achieve the following goals: 

● Increased capacity of health systems for detection, diagnosing, and management of diabetes. 

● Holistically meeting the health-care needs of those in need and leveraging current capacities within the system through integration of diabetes care into programs already in place. 

● Scaling-up of efforts in the health sector to prevent diabetes, especially among the youth. 

It is important to know that diabetes is not a death sentence and can be controlled. Many are living and thriving in society with the disease. 

If you would like to get tested for diabetes, It is important to visit a Health facility that can do blood tests and arm you with the necessary information to take care of yourself should the results be positive for diabetes. Ilara Health Labs and Ilara Health Clinics near you will support you in your diabetes journey.

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Founded at the start of 2019, Ilara Health is a leading medical products and solutions company that equips healthcare professionals with the latest medical diagnostic tools to help them achieve the best patient, clinical and economic outcomes.