Happy World Diabetes Day: Ways To Increase Happiness.
By Ore Taiwo Makinde.
Happy World Diabetes Day!
Is there any way to increase happiness by marking the World Diabetes Day? It seems quite ironic to say ‘Happy World Diabetes Day’ considering the global impact of the disease with so many sufferers across the globe from the resulting complications.
I was on duty the day a middle-aged cleric was brought into the hospital where I worked. The first thing I observed when alerted about the patient was that the nurses were spraying large doses of air freshener along the corridor and in the emergency room. It was not difficult to decipher the reason for this.There was a pungent smell coming from the direction of the patient who had a loosely wrapped bandage around his right foot. The bandage was soaked with purulent exudates.
A Diabetic Foot
A thorough assessment revealed that my patient had been diabetic for several years. However, he took his medication irregularly, had unhealthy lifestyle habits and hardly went for check-ups until an ulcer appeared on his big toe. Even after this discovery, he did not change his behaviour. By the time I was seeing him, the foot had become gangrenous and devoid of blood supply. We invited the Orthopaedic Surgeon to review him but the only solution to the dilemma was an amputation of the foot having done extensive investigations to check the blood flow in the leg.
I would have loved to end this repertoire by telling you that the cleric survived this ordeal. To our dismay, he refused care, left the hospital against medical advice and we later learnt that he travelled to a church in his village for prayers. It is not difficult to discern the outcome of his action. This is just one of the many case scenarios that play out everyday in hospitals across Nigeria.
On the other hand, I also have diabetic patients who I like to call my star patients. These are patients who adhere to their medication and have made positive and remarkable lifestyle changes. Managing patients in this category makes me happy on such a day as this. On days like this, they should be celebrated for their fortitude and consistency in keeping their blood sugar level under control.
Facts and Figures
The World Diabetes Day is marked on the fourteen of November annually. The statistics from Type 2 Diabetes, a chronic, lifestyle-related disease are quite dire, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
- Over 460 million adults which is about 1 in 11 individuals were living with diabetes in 2019.
- The number of people living with diabetes is expected rise to 578 million within a decade from now.
- 50% of adults with diabetes remain undiagnosed globally amounting to 232 million individuals. The majority of these have type 2 diabetes.
- More than 3 in 4 people with diabetes live in low and middle-income countries
- 1 in 6 live births (20 million) are affected by high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) in pregnancy
- An estimated 60% of people with diabetes live in urban areas and three-quarters are of working age
- 1 in 5 people with diabetes (136 million) are above 65 years old
- Diabetes caused 4.2 million deaths in 2019
- Diabetes was responsible for at least $760 billion in health expenditure in 2019 – 10% of the global total spent on healthcare
The Good News is Lifestyle Medicine
Despite these gloomy indices, there is good news. The good news is that you can prevent, treat and control diabetes successfully using the principles of lifestyle medicine. This is irrespective of whether you have a genetic predisposition to the disease or not. Some individuals are predisposed to developing diabetes as a result of medication, over-consumption of certain nutrients, alcohol, poor sleep and sedentariness.
Therefore, in order to increase happiness among those living with diabetes, their loved ones and among health professionals, it is expedient to adopt the healthy lifestyle habits that prevent its occurrence or its complications. These include:
- Regular physical activity. This improves the activity of the body cells that produce insulin, helping this hormone to work effectively in controlling the blood sugar. Prolonged sitting slows down your metabolism leading to calories being stored as fat. It is important to move as often as possible.
- Adequate sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to overweight, obesity and glucose intolerance. This effect on the genes can be averted when adults are able to sleep regularly for a minimum of 7 hours within 24 hours. The quality of your sleep is also important.
- Dietary control. A healthy nutrition has proved to be effective in controlling blood sugar levels. This would mean cutting out processed and packaged foods and increasing your intake of fibre which controls the absorption of sugars from food into the bloodstream. Whole foods such as tubers, fruits, vegetables and legumes are preferred. Portion control is also key.
- Substance avoidance. The effects of alcohol consumption on diabetes are varied. Alcohol consumption is linked to the chronic inflammation of the pancreas which is responsible for producing insulin. Loss of the function of this vital organ has the potential to trigger type 2 diabetes. Excess alcohol consumption can also lead to a dangerously low blood sugar.
- Home monitoring of blood sugar. You no longer need to wait to go to the hospital if you need a blood sugar check. There are affordable and easy to use glucose monitors that you will find useful at home. This can also help your doctor to keep a track of how well you are doing.
- Regular hospital checks: It is important to keep your hospital appointments even when you feel well. This keeps you accountable especially if you are taking medication for diabetes. Endeavour to get a blood sugar check at least once annually if you are not diabetic. Most individuals have lived with diabetes for several years before they get a sudden wake-up call.
- Add wisdom to your faith: Several individuals fall into the error of refusing medical treatment on the premise that they have ‘faith’. The scriptures clearly show that scientific knowledge for health and cure comes from God. However, our spirituality has been shown to enhance health outcomes in line with appropriate treatment.
In conclusion, diabetes mellitus becomes a debilitating illness when diagnosed late or if complications are allowed to set in. Remember that the individuals with uncomplicated diabetes usually have no symptoms. Taking the necessary steps to ensure the prevention and control of diabetes will improve the health-related quality of life of individuals. This will inevitably increase our happiness on World Diabetes Day.
Dr Ore Taiwo Makinde is a Consultant Family Physician and certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician.