It is only a disorder and preventable; if we don’t detect it early, it will affect eyes, kidneys, legs, nerves, heart

A retired medical college professor went to a doctor complaining of sudden uneasiness. The tests done gave shocking results as he was found to have reached an advanced stage of diabetes. He had a diabetic foot, kidney failure was imminent and there was internal bleeding in the eye. Yet there were no symptoms at all.

Despite intensive treatment at a leading diabetes care hospital in Chennai, he died recently and gave a shock to his colleagues and students in medical field. Instances like these are now being highlighted to create public awareness on prevention and control of diabetes.

“This patient, who was 60 plus, was a good surgeon. But he never went for blood sugar test. When I asked him why he did not go for sugar test, he said there were no symptoms. We tell people to check for diabetes, take right treatment and prevent complications,” says V. Mohan, Chairman and Managing Director, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai.

He, along with leading diabetologists and nutrition experts, conducted a massive awareness campaign in Madurai from August 10 to 12 through a special expo called ‘Diabetes 2012’ which had theme stalls on diabetic complications, food court, diabetes products and spot blood sugar test.

Catch it early

Based on studies carried out in various cities and towns in India, it is estimated that 15 per cent of people in Madurai would be diabetic and thousands of them will not be aware that they have diabetes. “What is worrying is that diabetes (Type-2) has become an epidemic; it is no longer a rich man’s disease. There is a big shift in prevalence of diabetes and it is time for a wake up call for Madurai. Sugar test is a must since 50 per cent of diabetic individuals have no symptoms at all,” says Dr. Mohan.

The figure from this exhibition is an indicator of diabetes prevalent in Madurai. While there were 15,006 visitors to the expo, 10,000 people had a sugar test of whom it was found that 1,201 had diabetes.

A leading Madurai diabetologist, A. J. Asirvatham, is worried that still people are ignorant about diabetes despite a lot of awareness programmes. “Knowledge and information are important in diabetes control and this exhibition is an eye-opener for people of Madurai,” he says.

Dr. Mohan explains that diabetes is only a disorder and is preventable. “But we have to catch it early and then you can have a long/healthy life.

The threatening fact is that it has shifted from rich to poor, old to young and urban to rural areas. If we don’t detect it early, it will affect eyes, kidney, legs, nerves and heart. Suppose if Madurai’s population is 10 lakh, then five lakh people will be adults. Our analysis suggests that 15 per cent of these five lakh people will be diabetics whether they know it or not. So, it is time for pre-diabetic and diabetic people to go for right treatment,” he says.

Nutrition and diet expert Saroja Raghavan appeals to people to follow healthy food court guidelines since some food items can be taken liberally while some must be restricted. “If a family has four members, then the consumption of cooking oil should be only two litres per month. To know your plate and plan your meals is very important. Half the plate should be for vegetables,” she says.

For those who keep control of diabetes, there are some strict yes and no items. Banana and mango are to be avoided fully. Diabetics can eat apple, guava, orange and papaya. If parents have diabetes, it is advised to go for sugar test after 20 since family history is a major cause.

Senior diabetologist G. Chandra Mohan says that ‘sugar test’ is the actual test which people have to pass these days because of wide prevalence and in this test the score must be low. “In the case of sugar, there is nothing to worry if you are under control and keep away the complications caused by diabetes. Due to lack of physical exercise, people are prone to it,” he cautions.

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