Time to act against early-onset diabetes

Diabetes has grown in epidemic proportions in India. There are over 70 million people with diabetes and an estimated 80 million people with pre-diabetes in India.

However if it is managed well, people can have a long and healthy life. I have seen a large number of patients who have lived with diabetes for 50 or even 60 years and are doing well without any complications. How did they achieve this? In one word: discipline.

A person with diabetes has to maintain a regular schedule of diet and exercise. He or she also has to taketheir medicines regularly and as prescribed by their doctor. The eye, kidney, heart and feet have to be examined in detail at least once a year, if not more often. The glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) — which indicates the last three months control of diabetes — should be kept below 7 per cent. In addition, the blood pressure and lipids (serum cholesterol and triglycerides) should also be kept under control. Smoking should be completely avoided, and alcohol, if used, should be in small quantities only.

If any one member of your family has diabetes, then everyone in your family above 20 years of age should also be tested. Unfortunately, today, the screening might have to start even earlier, as I am seeing children even below 10 years of age who have Type 2 diabetes (not lifestyle induced).

Even if you do not have diabetes today, if you have strong family history, you could be in the high risk category. It is therefore important to start preventive measures very early in life. This includes diet, exercise and weight reduction wherever appropriate. In a recent study, we saw that up to 35 per cent of people with pre-diabetes can prevent from developing diabetes just by a 30 minute walk and healthy eating.

Today, it is possible to diagnose diabetes very early by doing an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). We can identify those who are likely to progress to diabetes, and preventive steps can start at once. The time to act is now.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 5:05:37 AM |

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