It has been 100 years since the discovery of insulin as a recourse for people living with diabetes, yet a lot of old and young people have their lives snuffed out by diabetes. This situation is worse when there are late diagnoses, monitoring, treatment, and management of diabetes which impedes the fight against the ailment.
It is estimated that about 6 million Nigerians are living with Diabetes mellitus (DM) but more worrisome is the fact that two-thirds of persons living with diabetes are not even aware of that health status. Of that figure that is detected, a large percentage does not receive proper/adequate treatment. The cost of treatment and care for DM is not affordable for the common man, likewise the recommended food for better management of the disease. In addition to that challenge, many people living with diabetes have no access to the type of information they need to live healthier and longer lives. Of course, there is the group that will rather resort to self-care than heed the advice of their professional healthcare providers.
People who are not aware that they are diabetic face greater challenges because they live in dangerous ignorance. This group of people go about their businesses with no diabetes care or treatment at all. They are at the mercy of the disease until they are diagnosed, if ever. Often, by the time the disease is diagnosed in such persons, it has already gone too far and probably done some damages to their body. In such a scenario, it is more difficult to control and manage diabetes.
What happens when persons living with DM do not have access to proper diabetes care?
A lot of complications can arise when persons living with diabetes lack access to diabetes care. According to Mayoclinic, the longer you have diabetes — and the less controlled your blood sugar — the higher the risk of complications.
Uncontrolled diabetes can have adverse effects on various parts of the body including the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, gums, and teeth.
- Increased risk of heart diseases such as stroke, heart attack and the narrowing of arteries.
- Vision impairments like glaucoma can occur in a person living with diabetes, especially when there is little or no treatment and care.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy) can result from uncontrolled diabetes.
- Foot damage is a common complication associated with diabetes when the nerve on the foot is damaged or there is reduced blood circulation to the foot. This may lead to infections and sometimes, amputation when there is a cut or blisters on the leg.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) is another danger of diabetes common among people that have lived with the ailment for a number of years.
- Living with diabetes exposes one to the risk of dental problems including swollen and bleeding gums.
How to improve access to diabetes care/treatment and prevent diabetes complications
It cannot be overemphasized that access to quality treatment is critical to the survival of persons living with diabetes. Persons living with diabetes can prevent/prolong the onset of complications from diabetes.
- The first step is to always know your blood glucose level. You can walk into any certified healthcare facility, including Paxs Pharmacy to check it as often as possible. The knowledge of your glucose level is vital in diagnoses and treatment of diabetes. If you can, please purchase the blood sugar test kit so that you can easily test your sugar level at home.
- Encourage your family and friends to check their blood glucose level. Diabetes is not a disease for the aged. Young people can also suffer from diabetes and its complications, especially when it is undetected and uncontrolled.
- Request for blood glucose test whenever you are in the hospital for any health challenges even if you have no obvious symptoms of diabetes.
- If you are diagnosed with diabetes, please do not indulge in self-care, rather, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and advise to the letter.
- Healthy feeding goes a long way to curtail the effects of diabetes and reduce the sugar level. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or nutritionist about the best food for diabetics as well as the quantity and right time to consume them.
- As your healthcare provider will tell you, exercise is an integral part of treatment regimen for diabetes. He/she will advise you on the most suitable type of exercise for you.
- There are various medications for diabetes, but you cannot just go to the market and buy any of your choice. Your healthcare provider, based on your health history and blood glucose level will prescribe the right medication. Do not take insulin because your cousin is taking insulin. Make sure you follow professional prescription.
- Another reason you must employ the services of professionals when tackling diabetes is that your doctor or pharmacist knows when to check your cholesterol and blood pressure as these factors also affect treatment and control of diabetes.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol
- Pay attention to your feet for cuts and boils. Also be on the lookout for any changes in your body like increased urination, vision problems, increased fatigue, thirst and sweating.
As individuals, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to live our best lives in the healthiest way available to us. Take charge of your health, live healthy.