The theme of World Diabetes Day 2016 is ‘Eyes on Diabetes’. The year’s activities and materials will focus on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.

According to World Health Organization, Diabetes prevalence has been risen more rapidly in middle- and low-income countries, and projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030 .International Diabetes Federation (2016), 1 in 2 people currently living with diabetes is undiagnosed.

Diabetes also known as diabetes mellitus, is a metabolism disorder (Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth) in which an individual has high blood sugar or blood glucose (Glucose is a form of sugar in the blood – it is the principal source of fuel for our bodies), due to inadequate insulin production ( insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas which makes it possible for our cells to take in glucose), non-response of the body cells to insulin, or both.

Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).

Types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes previously called insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset , occurs as a result of deficient insulin production. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge.


Patients with type 1 diabetes will require daily administration of insulin for the rest of their life. They must also ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet.


Symptoms include frequent urination (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger (polyphagia), weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes previously called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset, results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin or when the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes comprises the majority of people with diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are type 2.

Symptoms may be similar to those of Type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen.

Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in adults but it is now also occurring increasingly frequently in children.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia with blood glucose values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes, occurring during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. They and their children are also at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed through prenatal screening, rather than through reported symptoms.


Common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Frequent Urination.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating.
  • Extreme fatigue/ Tiredness.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Slow healing sores or frequent infection.
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Atinglingsensation or numbness in the hands or feet (type 2).


Health consequences of diabetes

Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems. Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. However, badly controlled diabetes can lead to the following:


  • Eye complications– such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and some others.
  • Gastroparesis– the muscles of the stomach stops working properly.
  • Foot complications– this includes neuropathy, ulcers, and sometimes gangrene which may require that the foot be amputated
  • Skin complications– people with diabetes are more susceptible to skin infections and skin disorders.
  • Heart problems– such as ischemic heart disease, when the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished.
  • Nephropathy– uncontrolled blood pressure which can lead to kidney disease.
  • Hypertension– which can raise the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, heart attack and stroke.
  • Mental health– uncontrolled diabetes raises the risk of suffering from depression, anxiety and some other mental disorders
  • Hearing loss– diabetes patients have a higher risk of developing hearing problems
  • Gum disease– there is a much higher prevalence of gum disease
  • Ketoacidosis– accumulation of ketone bodies and acidity in the blood.
  • Neuropathy– diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage which can lead to several different problems.
  • Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS)– blood glucose levels shoot up too high, and there are no ketones present in the blood or urine. This is an emergency condition.
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease(PAD)– symptoms may include pain in the leg, tingling and sometimes problems walking properly
  • Stroke– if blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels are not controlled, the risk of stroke increases significantly
  • Erectile dysfunction– male impotence.
  • Infections– people with badly controlled diabetes are much more susceptible to infections
  • Healing of wounds– cuts and lesions take much longer to heal


Prevention of diabetes

Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight;
  • Engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days.
  • Eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake
  • Avoid smoking; it increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.


Treatment of diabetes

Diabetes can be diagnosed early by testing of blood sugar. Treatment of diabetes involves:

  • Blood glucose control, particularly in type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin, people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medication, but may also require insulin;
  • Proper Dieting and physical activity
  • Blood pressure control
  • Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.
  • Foot care.
  • Screening and treatment for retinopathy (which causes blindness);
  • Blood lipid control (to regulate cholesterol levels);
  • Screening for early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease and treatment.
  • Use of drugs or injections, depending on the type or the level of your case. It is used only after lifestyle measures have been unsuccessful in lowering glucose levels.


Article by: edokita Team.


  1. America Diabetes ‘Living with Diabetes’. 2016.
  2. Marcus MacGill. ‘Treatment for Diabetes’. MNT, 2016.
  3. Diabetes Health Center. 2016.
  4. WHO Media Center. Diabetes fact sheet. 2016.

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