November: National Diabetes Awareness Month

 

According to the World Health Organization’s website, the number of people suffering from diabetes all over the world rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, hence the reason why more and more medicines for diabetes became readily available in pharmacies to help combat said disease. In addition to that, the International Diabetes Federation revealed that the US has the highest prevalence of diabetes among all developed countries, with almost 11% of Americans between the ages of 20-79 suffering from diabetes. Singapore followed with 10.53% and then Malta with 9.92%. WHO also predicted that diabetes will become the 7th leading cause of death at 2030.

As decreed by WHO and International Diabetes Federation in 1991, November is Diabetes Awareness Month with November 14 as World Diabetes Day, marked on the birthday of Canadian physician Frederick Banting who discovered insulin along with his student Charles Best. This was created to raise awareness on diabetes, its symptoms, side effects, and gain support for research towards better treatment and prevention.

So what is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition when the body couldn’t produce any or enough insulin, causing elevated levels of glucose in the blood. There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (which can occur during pregnancy). In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin. In type 2, there is an insulin resistance in the body, meaning the body doesn’t use insulin properly. This is the most common form of diabetes. Gestational, on the other hand, only occurs on women during late pregnancy. Some symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, excessive hunger and thirst, weight loss and blurred vision.

How to manage diabetes?

A lifestyle routine is always recommended by the doctors. The meals should be well-balanced, with a significant reduction in carbohydrates and sweets intake. More physical activity is encouraged since the muscles use glucose as energy when moving. Of course there are also medications and the standard insulin therapy. But medications must be taken only by the advice of the doctor so as to prevent insulin shock.

How to get involved with Diabetes Awareness Month?

Although Diabetes Awareness Month is commemorated worldwide on November, the Philippines has a National Diabetes Awareness Week observed every fourth week of July by virtue of Proclamation No. 213, signed by former president Fidel V. Ramos on July 23, 1993. Activities included fun runs, community seminars and conventions where ideas and stories about diabetes were exchanged. There was also the birth of slogans like “Huwag Nang Hintaying Langgamin” and “Race against Diabetes”.

So whether you are or not diagnosed with diabetes or you know someone who is, you can do a lot to support diabetics in your community. Learn more about diabetes, its symptoms and how to manage it, encourage them to be positive since having a medical condition is hard, and find ways to help in managing the stress of having diabetes. It is a disease that is difficult to manage alone. Remember, when a diabetic has the full support of his family and friends, he or she will be able to better control his or her diabetes.