According to the World Health Organisation, there are 346 million people worldwide who have been diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus (or more commonly known as diabetes). In Singapore alone, there has been an alarming increase in its prevalence among adult suffers from 8.2% in 2004 to 11.3% in 2010.
At Mount Elizabeth Hospital, we want to give you a head start to identifying and managing this disease, together with our team of specialists, for a better quality of life.
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces to regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat in the body. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time, leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.
There are 2 main types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin, and usually develops in childhood or adolescence. These patients require lifelong insulin injections for survival.
Type 2 Diabetes usually develops in adulthood and is associated with obesity, lack of physical activity, and having an unhealthy diet. This is the more common type of diabetes and treatment may involve lifestyle changes and weight loss alone, or oral medications or even insulin injections.
There are other categories of diabetes including gestational diabetes which as the name suggests, develops during pregnancy, and "other" rarer causes (genetic syndromes, acquired processes such as pancreatitis, diseases such as cystic fibrosis, exposure to certain drugs, viruses, and unknown causes).
In the short term, hyperglycemia causes symptoms of increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, and weight loss. In the long-term, it causes damage to the eyes which may lead to blindness, kidneys thus causing renal failure, and the nerves which may lead to impotence, and decreased sensation to the feet that may potentially result in infections or Diabetic foot disease, which often leads to ulceration and subsequent limb amputation. It is one of the most costly complications of diabetes. Diabetes also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Thus, the primary goal of treatment is to bring the elevated blood sugars down to a normal range, both to improve symptoms of diabetes as well as to prevent or delay diabetic complications. Coupled with regulated weight loss and healthier lifestyle changes, good metabolic control can prevent or delay the progression of diabetes.