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.