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Sweet nothings

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH
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HEALTH Today, on World Diabetes Day, we as a country with 62.4 million diabetics, need to sit up and make some changes in our lives

“Take a piece of paper and let it fall in a puddle of water. Then take out the paper and wipe it dry. The paper will dry at some point, but it will never be perfectly smooth like it was originally. That is what will happen to your eyes if you ignore diabetes and it hits your eyes,” warns Dr. Supriya Dabir, a consultant in the vitreo retina services at Narayana Netralaya. “The eye can be treated, but one can never regain perfect vision again,” she says.

The scourge of diabetes is galloping in India — in 2000, the numbers were 31.7 million. It has alarmingly doubled today, to a shocking 62.4 million. These are figures from the Madras Diabetes Research conducted in both urban and rural areas.

And the figures for pre-diabetes is 77.2 million, which proves the epidemic is progressing rapidly across the nation. Diabetes is a debilitating disease if left untreated and can slowly break down different organs in your body.

But the disease can be managed with small cut backs on diet and increase of exercise, which can help prevent dangerous repercussions on our eyes, heart, brain, teeth and feet.

An endocrinologist from St. John’s Medical College and Hospital says, “The basic success formula for diabetes is a balanced lifestyle. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help prevent diabetes, maintain good sugar levels and delay long term ill effects.

This, coupled with regular check-ups with your physician for glucose control, and surveillance for complications is what every diabetic patient should practise.”

Having been diabetic for over 15 years Hema Kumaran from Yelahanka says, “I have learnt to avoid functions and events which cause me to binge. And even if I do go for family events, I ask for a tall glass of water, with ice-cubes tinkling in it, for style. Exercise is part of my day and I have turned vegetarian by choice and feel so much fitter, ever since I changed. And, my only indulgence — I pamper my feet by going for a professional pedicure at least once a month, and I wear only closed shoes.”

Dr. Supriya suggests that a diabetic must not wait for silent bleeds to occur in the eye and a drop in vision, to make them race to the opthalmologist. Instead, go for professional screening at least once a year, as prevention is better than cure.

“Our studies have shown that diabetes has a growing young population, in the age group of 30 to 50 years. This is due to lifestyle changes, obesity and genetic factors. Everything must be enjoyed in moderation and regular check ups are imperative,” she states categorically.

So, on World Diabetes Day, let us think of the millions out there in our country, with this silent scourge. We must realise that it’s a lifestyle change that must be made and that is the only way to help stem the toll the disease takes on its victims.

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH

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