Firstly, for those who do not know, diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose. Over time diabetes leads to severe damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.
This disease is one which is not limited to gender, age, nor creed—every person has the possibility of becoming a diabetic.
After tuberculosis, diabetes is the second deadliest disease in South Africa, and according to Mediclinic Info Hub, 7% of South Africans between 21 and 79 years of age have diabetes. That is approximately 3.85 million people.
Looking at diabetes, Sister Estelle Liebenberg of Newcastle Diabetes Centre, highlights that lifestyle choices contribute largely to acquiring Type 2 diabetes.
This type of diabetes usually appears in adults and occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t manufacture enough insulin. Sister Liebenberg says, “Stress and lifestyle are contributing factors. And when I say lifestyle, I am referring to eating habits, lack of exercise and being overweight. As of late, Type 2 diabetes has become more prevalent, and this is concerning.”
However, when looking at medical development for those living with diabetes, Sister Liebenberg affirms, there has been a series of developments in treatment options. She points out, “However, due to COVID-19, many developments were put on hold for a while. But they are coming out now.”
One of these new developments is an insulin injection, which people will only need to take once a week. Sister Liebenberg says this will genuinely make an actual impact on insulin reliant diabetics.
There are also apps, which can prove beneficial to the treatment of one’s diabetes. “These apps assist with readings, testing and education.”
With further development in the pipeline, it is crucial to note that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 complications, which could result in death.
Looking at this, Sister Liebenberg states as troubling as this is, it has been noted that due to the pandemic, diabetics have been avoiding regular check-ups. “This has led to more co-morbidities, thereby endangering their lives.”
As diabetics face a series of health risks, Sister Liebenberg confirms that education is paramount. With the pandemic forcing people apart, she claims the plethora of information on the internet has indeed been of great help. However, she stresses that there are times when physical interaction is vital. She concludes in saying, “Through interacting with diabetic patients, we can not only help educate them on the disease but physically show them how to inject their insulin and offer support wherever possible.”
If you suspect you might have diabetes, be sure to visit your local GP and take an active stance in combating this treatable disease.