STEPPING OUT FOR DIABETES
Saturday, 14th November is World Diabetes Day and, with this, comes an annual tradition to put on those walking/running shoes and support the annual Durban Wellness Festival and Global Diabetes Walk.
But, this isn’t restricted to Durban’s Golden Mile. Each year, the International Diabetes Federation marks World Diabetes Day with a global campaign promoting diabetes awareness and advocacy. The Global Diabetes Walk is the WDF’s contribution to this important campaign.
The only problem is that, with Covid protocols still firmly in place and social distancing the order of the day, large gatherings of enthusiastic walkers are a no-no! So, even this event has opted to “go virtual”! So, on Saturday, 14th November, local supporters are being asked to take a walk anyway. You can stride out anywhere you’d like, even around your neighbourhood – just wear something blue!
DIABETES AND COVID-19
Although diabetes has featured on the list of comorbidities that has been red flagged during the Covid-19 pandemic, very few people have probably gone to much trouble to find out just why there is so much concern. Few have asked why those who live with diabetes are that much more vulnerable to this inexplicable virus?
DiabetesSA, through its online magazine, Diabetes Focus, set out to put this in perspective.
Quoting Dr Angela Murphy, a Boksburg based specialist physician, the organisation explained that while diabetes did not increase the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, it did ratchet up the risks.
Put simply, the so-called lifestyle diseases (including hypertension, obesity, lung and kidney disease and chronic heart disease) make certain patients more likely to suffer more severe symptoms.
As Dr Murphy explains in Diabetes Focus, those with Type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to infections such as influenza and pneumonia. Chronically raised blood glucose levels suppress the immune system and allow invading viruses and bacteria to multiply, including the corona virus.
On the flip side, having an infection causes a stress response from the body which can further increase glucose levels and exacerbate the infection, she adds. This makes treating diabetic patients infected by Covid-19 all the more tricky.
Dr Murphy also notes that doctors treating Covid-19 around the world have observed that patients become particularly resistant to insulin during the course of their disease. It is thought that Covid-19 may cause direct damage to the insulin secreting beta-cells of the pancreas. This means some patients may require insulin for the first time while others need to increase their insulin doses significantly. Vigilant monitoring of blood glucose is essential.
Another concerning observation in Diabetes Focus is the severe inflammation that is seen in Covid-19. This causes tissue damage throughout the body, not only the lungs. It also increases clotting of blood and damages blood vessels which are already compromised with underlying diabetes and hypertension.
DIABETES - A PANDEMIC IN ITS OWN RIGHT
Diabetes occurs when a person has high levels of glucose in their blood which can lead to serious health issues when left untreated.
Diabetes in South Africa has become endemic over the last few years with increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with this potentially serious health condition. Today, more than 425 million people have diabetes. By 2045, that could rise to 629 million. 79% of people with diabetes live in low and middle income households / countries.
What’s even more alarming is how many people are living with diabetes, totally unaware of their diagnosis.
Diabetes is never mild. It is a serious health condition that needs to be treated accordingly. If the high level of glucose is left untreated, it can cause complications such as heart disease, amputation, blindness and kidney disease. Although these complications can be prevented, early detection is crucial!
The signs and symptoms of diabetes include:
- Blurred vision
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination
- Unusual weight loss or gain
- Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
- Frequent or recurring infections
DIABETES AND EXERCISE
The difference between the Covid-19 and diabetes pandemics is that there is a lot that can be done about the latter.
No matter where we live, we can certainly eat healthily and exercise regularly in order to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise helps keep blood sugar levels stable, reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases and improves well-being.
That explains why an annual walk is held to not only raise awareness of the risks associated with diabetes but also to encourage people to have regular blood sugar tests and to work towards a healthy lifestyle.
So, before you head off and do this walk or, whilst you are on the trot, pop into Park Boulevard Shopping Centre’s Pharmacy at Spar or The Local Choice Intersite Pharmacy at Springfield Retail Centre to find out about testing – before it is too late!
For more enquiries about the event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org