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World Diabetes Day: Access information and treatment

Other than eating healthily and keeping active, Sister Dlamini says education is key and testing is very important.

IT’S possible that you could have diabetes and not even know it. This is because the condition may remain dormant for up to five years before presenting any symptoms.

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This is why Sister Pilile Dlamini, the chairperson of Diabetes South Africa, advises that everyone eat balanced meals, drink lots of water and exercise regularly, especially as World Diabetes Day takes place on November 14.

“I also advise that people test their sugar at least twice a year – even young children. The number of children who are being diagnosed with diabetes is rising each year, and this is alarming. Parents must control their children’s sugar intake and make sure they eat balanced meals and lead an active lifestyle,” she said.

She said when children present with symptoms of dehydration and are taken to hospital, often a glucose drip is administered. This could be detrimental to a child with an undiagnosed diabetes condition.

This year’s theme is ‘Access to diabetes care’, which highlights the importance of having equal access to the right information and essential care to ensure timely treatment and management.

“There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 which appears in adolescence and Type 2 which appears during adulthood. Basically, it means that a person has high blood glucose, which refers to the body’s sugar levels. This is due to the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin or the insulin produced is not working properly. Insulin is a hormone responsible for moving blood sugar from the bloodstream into the cells where it is used and stored for energy,” she added.

“There’s also gestational diabetes which occurs when a woman is pregnant. The blood sugar levels stabilise after birth, but it could be harmful to the mother and baby if left untreated. A woman with gestational diabetes cannot seek treatment from a clinic and must go to a hospital. We have no idea what causes this,” said Dlamini.

“Throughout the year, we embark on these campaigns where we issue free screenings and checks, but not enough education is being provided on treatment and managing diabetes. I urge patients to ask their healthcare providers questions about diabetes, to research and to follow doctor’s orders,” she added.

Diabetes symptoms include:
– sudden weight loss or gain
– increased thirst
– frequent urination
– constant fatigue
– blurry vision
– slow healing of cuts or wounds
– recurrent infection
– yeast infection / thrush
– numbness in the hands and feet

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