With about 65 million diabetics in India, diabetes could pose a big financial burden if the country doesn't take stock of the situation and adopt means to tackle the increasing number, the medical community has warned.
On the World Diabetes Day, November 14, it is important to spread awareness about prevention and causes of the disease. Another important point is the need of regular screening of persons who fall in the high-risk category.
According to the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), diabetes or heart disease affects a person in the productive years. "They cause reduced productivity and early retirement and put immense pressure on public health expenditure," said a senior doctor at PHFI.
He said the pressure of non-communicable diseases could hit India's 'demographic dividend' it is projected to benefit from due to predominantly young population.
A recent report published by IRIS Knowledge Foundation in collaboration with UN-HABITAT said by 2020, India is set to become the world's youngest country with 64 percent of its population in the working age group.
"The government needs to revisit their health promotion strategies for non-communicable diseases to increase awareness about simple and effective lifestyle changes, such as physical activity and healthy diet. Healthy food should be made available at affordable rates to make healthy choice an easy choice," WHO regional director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a statement.
With the second highest number of diabetics in the world, second only to China, Indians need to understand that emphasis should be made on early diagnosis.
There are two types of diabetes. In Type 1, the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. In Type 2, the pancreas makes too little insulin.
Type 1 can be life-threatening and it can never be treated. We can only manage it by taking the right amount of insulin in the form of injections. But technology has come to the aid of such patients in the form of insulin pumps. The pump is constantly connected to the body which keeps gives a small amount of rapid acting insulin all throughout the day.
Type 1 diabetics must test blood sugar at least five times a day. According to the American Diabetes Association, blood sugar levels affect energy and mood. It is important to keep the level at normal range as high levels can create long-term problems such as blindness, kidney failure and amputation.
Juvenile diabetes is another big area of concern. According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, India is home to about 10 lakh children with Type 1 diabetes. Children in the age group of 10-14 years are at a higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.
At such a tender age, kids who suffer from diabetes have to follow a strict regime. Their insulin schedule should always be in place to ensure their glucose levels are under control. It's a great pressure on both the children and parents to ensure that glucose level is maintained while enjoying life. For them, results can be drastic even if one insulin dosage is missed.
And it's a great pain for parents when they have to prick their children for giving the insulin dosage. "Pallavi was a poor eater. At most, she would eat one chapati. But two years ago, she suddenly started eating very well, but still weight drastically. A couple of months later, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. It pains me every time I prick her with insulin injections. I hope someone invents some pills," says Sarita, a homemaker.
Coffee and diabetes
According to the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee in Switzerland, drinking up to four cups of coffee a day can reduce the chance of diabetes by 25 percent.
The annual diabetes report says there a possibility that coffee improves glucose, energy metabolism and burns more calories, thus bringing down the chance of diabetes.