Thursday, January 12, 2012

A not so sweet situation

Jamaican brown sugar

 In Jamaica we refer to Diabetes as 'sugar'. It is a very common disease, and a great majority of the population knows of or is related to someone who has the disease.
Diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood. This may be due to your body not being able to :

  1.  Produce insulin which is needed to make the sugar available to the cells of the body, 
  2. Detect the levels of sugar in the blood accurately and therefore not instructing the body to use it up 
  3. Both. 
Even though Diabetes is a lifestyle disease, genetics may play a role in your developing the disease. Your lifestyle is the best indicator of whether or not  you will be able to develop and control your diabetes.

The need to maintain a healthy lifestyle is inherent in lowering your risks of developing the disease. However, if you are currently living with the disease these are some things you should know.

  • The aim of  treatment is to maintain and control your blood sugar levels. In order to control your blood sugar levels, you have to have timed meals. It is recommended that you have 6 meals; Breakfast Lunch Dinner (three main meals) and Mid-morning, Afternoon and Before bed snacks (three snacks). The idea is to never allow your blood sugar levels to become too low or too high.
  • Medication is vital. Depending on the type of Diabetes you have, you will either be given Insulin (for persons whose bodies don't produce it) or Medication ( for those whose bodies produce insulin, but the body is not using up the sugar in the blood). You have to take your medication when you are instructed to take it. Your medication is designed to work with your meals and so timing is very important.
  • Physical activity is important in controlling Diabetes. Increasing your levels of physical activity will increase your ability to effectively control this disease. It should be noted that you do not have to become a fitness guru, even a moderate increase in physical activity will help.
  • Stress may cause changes in the way your body responds to medication and food. This will undermine your efforts to control your blood sugar levels. This is true with all illnesses and diseases, but not many persons take this into account  during treatment. If you are stressed take all the necessary steps to reduce the effects they have on your treatment. Exercise is a tried and proven method to help in this case.
  • Losing a little weight may result in huge improvements in your condition. In other words lose the weight and you may lose the Diabetes. Try it. Start slowly and start with the advise of your healthcare professional. 

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to loss of sight, amputation of limbs and for men a loss of virility, loss of kidney function among other things. This is a very serious disease that causes the death of many every year. It should not be taken  lightly.
Having the right information is vital. Even though this disease cannot be cured, it can be controlled.