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Updated: June 6, 2013 16:48 IST

Deepavali. Diabetes. Where to draw the line

R. Sujatha
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A glimpse into how the disease, known as the silent killer, operates — and how to stay ahead of it

It’s that time of the year when firecrackers and good food reign. But even as the city celebrates Deepavali with much gusto and a few bangs, diabetologists are gearing up to mark World Diabetes Day, which falls on Wednesday.

Several city-based organisations held meetings, conducted rallies, seminars and awareness programmes in the run up to the day over the past week.

On Wednesday, the Indian Coast Guard along with M.V. Hospital for Diabetes, Royapuram, has proposed to light up Napier Bridge with blue lights and form a human chain. Blue is the theme and a blue ring is also the mascot for World Diabetes Day.

Affects all organs

Diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are not under control, is a silent killer and affects the eyes, the kidneys and the heart. Despite the multitude of campaigns organised every year, the incidence of the disease is rising, and dangerously so — a possible indicator that awareness is still low.

Each of the diabetology departments in the three major tertiary care government hospitals in the city receives around 800 to 1,000 patients every day. Around 98 per cent of patients have type-2 diabetes, a condition that is associated with lifestyle.

“Patients are routinely referred to us by other departments for complications,” says S. Subhasree, head of the department at Government Stanley Hospital. Rarely do patients come for “proactive screening”, she adds. Typically, patients with type-2 diabetic show up with non-healing ulcers, infections or weight loss, which lead doctors to suspect diabetes.

For type-1 diabetes patients, symptoms like appetite could be an indicator. “We ask the relatives of the patients, especially if they are sons and daughters, to also get screened for diabetes, since it is a condition that can run in families,” says Dr. Subhasree.

Consider the statistics provided by the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital’s diabetes clinic: every day, 980 patients with type-2 diabetes are provided a month’s free supply of medicines, worth Rs. 250 to Rs. 1,500.

A total of 20 patients have type-1 diabetes and receive free insulin. More than 350 persons are registered in the diabetes clinic as type-1 diabetic patients and they receive six vials of insulin on an average at a cost of around Rs. 750 a month for each patient.

A similar story emerges from Government Kilpauk Hospital also, where every day 30 to 40 new visitors are found to have diabetes and around 150 to 200 patients receive insulin doses.

Diet is key

“Around 10 per cent of rural and 18 per cent of urban women have diabetes during pregnancy and need screening. Uncontrolled diabetes brings with it risk of abortions and big babies,” says V. Mohan, who conducted a study of 6,000 persons with diabetes along with Novo Nordisk, across the country recently.

His study revealed that though patients complied with medication, they rarely paid attention to diet and exercise. Lack of attention to this important issue leads to a variety of complications and treatment costs.

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First people don understand the complete physiology of human body (including
the ones who comment over here. Please be advised I am not pointing any body
but I take this as a chance to point out the ignorance of people). Each and every
person has a different metabolic rate determined by their genetics, environmental
factors, toxins (as rightly pointed out below in one of the comments) etc. Diabetes
can affect anyone who have genetic predisposal, poor diet and lack of exercise and
thats why doctors and scientists call them simply as lifestyle habits for the
common man to understand. So even if a person does not change his/her dietary
habits, depending on their metabolic rate and type of work they do, they will have
diabetes. You have thousands of proteins in your body that regulate the entire
physiological system and they are all interconnected. So please don accuse doctors
and scientists without knowing the reason behind it. Thanks

from:  Sam
Posted on: Nov 15, 2012 at 01:37 IST

it should be mandatory that all the private and govt clinics , hospitals are ready to check the diabetes problem for each and every patient who is approaching to them for any type of diseases day to day ( at least preliminary check ups) so that they are prescribing correct medicine to the patients. Also they are creating awareness to the people in the society

from:  S.Saravanan
Posted on: Nov 14, 2012 at 14:50 IST

While talking about prevention of diabetes no one talks about mother’s diet and breastfeeding. Under-weight babies are more susceptible to diabetes. In 2007, WHO established that breastfeeding protects from obesity and long term adult health problems like hypertension, diabetes etc. For 25 years, the science has been warning us that children who consume animal milk before the age of 2 yrs are more prone to diabetes mellitus, obesity etc.
In spite of all the efforts taken by Governments and NGOs, the resultant feeding practices are alarmingly poor. Even medical college hospitals stock commercial milk powders like ‘Lactogen’ and routinely start this for all LSCS babies. They believe that mothers will not secrete enough milk for the first few days and hence babies must be fed with milk powders to save their life. This is due to poor knowledge and skills of health professionals.

from:  Muthuswami A
Posted on: Nov 14, 2012 at 11:36 IST

It is high time doctors and scientists stop attributing life style to the cause of diabetics. The cause is unknown and yet to be scientifically established. I know of people who have not changed their lifestyle even a bit but have been diagnosed with diabetics. Of the reasons that are to be seriously studied will be use of fertilisers, pesticides, consumption of genetically modified foods, etc., as these are the only things that have changed with respect to the ancestors. This has to be taken seriously as entire India will become infested with diabetes within next 10 years if something is not done to find the root cause and eliminate it. I am writing this with a heavy heart.

from:  Ramesh
Posted on: Nov 13, 2012 at 03:33 IST
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