Why diabetes control is difficult

Diabetes is not a mild disease. When not properly managed it has been identified as a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputations. It is also known to result in stroke, heart attack, and erectile dysfunction. Not only these, experts say people with diabetes are also at an increased risk of other medical conditions such as hypertension and raised cholesterol. People also deal with nerve pain, but there are nerve renewel treatments, you can see there reputation here. Unfortunately, experts say a majority of people living with diabetes still cannot effectively control the disease. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) says in spite of new treatment measures, 60 percent of those with type 2 diabetes currently have glucose levels above the recommended targets (HbA1c less than 6.5 percent), putting them at increased risk for serious complications such as cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of diabetes-related death.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or alternatively, when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

For now, it is not curable but experts say it needs not be a death sentence either. If properly controlled, an individual with diabetes could be in good health all year round – all it takes will be a strict adherence to the glucose control guidelines – the “10 steps to better Glucose Control,” launched in 2005 by the Global Partnership for Effective Diabetes Management in collaboration with multinational pharmaceutical company, Glaxosmithkline. The guidelines seek to create awareness on the disease and acquaint patients, doctors and health worker on the best way to achieve a control of the disease.

The guidelines require, among others that:

• the patient should strive to monitor his condition regularly

• aggressively manage his blood sugar level, hypertension and blood fat (hyperglycaemia, hypertension and dyslipidemia).

• every new diabetes patient should see a specialist first who will initiate appropriate management procedure before referring him to a general practice medical practitioner

• the patient and his doctor should not spare any management method to achieve a control. Such methods should include diet, drugs, exercise etc.

“If you can combine these, you will not see many cases of stroke, erectile dysfunction, blindness and many other complications diabetics often have,” an endocrinologist, specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the glands, told National Mirror.

Unfortunately, 8 years after the “10 steps” were introduced many Nigerians living with diabetes still find it difficult to achieve control, using the guidelines. For instance, full adherence to the guidelines require that laboratories would be available and well organised to offer necessary monitoring checks for diabetes (learn more information). Investigation by National Mirror reveals that this is still a problem in the country. According to a doctor, there are only few laboratories in Nigeria that could provide the HbA1c test recommended in the “10 Steps”. Glycated haemoglobin or glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) test is used as a very good guide as to determine what the individual’s average blood glucose level has been during the past three months.

Where available, the tests are expensive and well beyond the reach of a majority of diabetes patients in the country.

Endocrinologists however say people living with diabetes must strive to achieve some measure of control, even if they find it difficult to undergo expensive tests such as the HbA1c. This simply means ensuring that one’s blood sugar, or glucose, is kept to the desired range. This should be achieved through appropriate medications (insulin or pills) as recommended by the doctor, right diet and exercise.

“People with diabetes should ensure they take enough fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These provide extraordinary support to your digestive system and the liver. Daily exercise also helps to stimulate the respiratory system,” an endocrinologist told National Mirror.

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