My name is Kofi Baboni, 28years old. In recent times, I have noticed that I am losing weight despite the fact that my appetite has been normal. Some days, I actually eat more than I usually do. I am also always thirsty, drinking several bottles of water and in return, I spend a great part of my day traipsing to and from the urinal.😔
Recently, I was screened at a medical outreach organized by my church and my sugar level was found to be 22mmol/l.😳😳 It was explained to me that I had developed diabetes and had to undergo further testing in a nearby hospital. I was shattered! My world came crashing down.😢
So many thoughts raced through my mind.
“How did this happen? I am just starting out in life, with so many plans to carry out. I just got into a new relationship. Could this be the work of family witches? I must see prophet one for him to get to the bottom of this by fire 🔥, by thunder ⚡ 🙃. Jesus, you must personally return and save me from this. I don’t want to die, Lord… Help me Yehowah. “……………
Surprised at the turn of events? Don’t be…This is Africa where we investigate🧐 and treat every illness spiritually… Hmm(Sigh)
What is Diabetes?
The World Health Organization defines diabetes as a chronic metabolic disease characterized by raised blood sugar which eventually leads to serious damage to vital organs. Diabetes may be a result of inadequate insulin or the inability of the body to respond to insulin.
Most of the food we eat is converted by the body to some form of sugar. Insulin is the hormone that allows the body to make use of the sugar in the blood. If the insulin in the body is insufficient or is unable to work, the sugar will remain floating in the blood in excess, while the cells are denied of this important component to produce energy, thus the saying “hunger in the midst of plenty”. This is what is referred to as high blood sugar a.k.a DIABETES MELLITUS(DM).
Which type of Diabetes do I have?
There are 3 main types.
Type 1 Diabetes
This is mainly an autoimmune disease (a condition where the body’s immune system fights and destroys parts of the body) and usually occurs suddenly. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin. It accounts for about 5-10% of people with diabetes. It usually starts in children and young adults but can affect adults too. People with type 1 diabetes are typically small and thin.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes happens when the pancreas produces inadequate insulin or the body doesn’t respond to insulin. It is a lifestyle disorder, common among obese people and accounting for about 80-90% of the diabetes population. It has an insidious onset, creeping up on people with many of them not realizing it until it’s too late.
This is diabetes that is first diagnosed during pregnancy.
What are the factors that increase the chances of getting DM?
The unique thing about non-communicable diseases is that they all share common risk factors as well as preventive and management measures. So all the risk factors for hypertension play out here as well.
First degree family history (parents, siblings): if you are proud to share in their wealth and name, don’t be surprised you could be sharing something more! Family history is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cancers, and hypertension(Vornanen, Konttinen, & Helena, 2016). If your parent or sibling has diabetes, you are at higher risk.
Overweight/Obesity: Studies have shown that fat cells produce certain chemicals that inhibit insulin action. Thus, obesity promotes the development of DM (Kahn, Hull, & Utzschneider, 2006)
Physical inactivity: It is no secret, that people who do not engage in any form of exercise have a plethora of health challenges.
History of GDM or delivery of a baby of >4.0kg: everyone wants their baby to be a big chubby bundle of joy. But, mothers whose babies weigh more than 4.0kg have an increased risk of developing DM later in life.
Hypertension: These two diseases are like peas in a pod….partners in crime😆. This is however not surprising since they have many risk factors in common.
How will I know if I have Diabetes?
There are many symptoms of diabetes mellitus although sometimes, one may not feel anything until damage begins to occur in the internal organs.
Increased thirst and increased urination: countless times I hear patients explaining away this symptom. You hear “oh, I drink a lot lately hence the increased number of visits to the washroom”. Let’s pay attention guys, new onset of increased thirst with attendant increased urination may be the red herring of DM.
Nocturia: Psalm 4:8 – In peace, I will both lie down and sleep😴 . But this is an illusion for some people with DM. As the whole house sleeps, they visit the washroom more than 3 times. Some as much as 8 times in a night!🤦🏾♀️
Increased appetite: this is when there is an increase in the quantity and frequency of food you eat. If you eat more than 3 square meals a day and still keep feeling hunger pangs, you may want to get yourself tested for DM 🧐
Chronic infections: my sister, you have been treating ‘white’ (vaginal candidiasis) for almost a year now. Are you really sure it’s just white?😒 Please get tested. There are some people who barely go a fortnight without a boil.. all you keep saying oh.. it is the shaving that brings the boils. Are you really sure?🤔
Poor vision: blurred vision is one of the common symptoms of DM. I have seen a good number of patients come in as referrals from eye clinics with high sugars.😢
The presence of any of the above symptoms, as well as any of the following, may indicate Diabetes.
⮚ Fasting blood sugar (after 8 hours without food) of more than or equal to 7mmol/l.
⮚ Random blood sugar (blood sugar taken any time of the day irrespective of your mealtime more than 11.1mmol/l
⮚ An oral glucose tolerance test with the 2-hour postprandial measure of more than 11.1mmol/l (worry not about the English, it’s a simple test 😆)
Our take home for this week;
Go to a wellness clinic near you (available in every government hospital or health directorate) and get a blood sugar test done🙏🏾✅✅… Remember that, you can have DM for many years without any symptoms at all.🙁
Get tested today!💪🏾