In 2010, it was estimated that 280 million people worldwide had diabetes. About 90% of the cases were suffered from type 2 diabetes. It is believed that the number of diabetes victims is increasing at an alarming rate and there is fear that the number could double come 2030. This disease is found in every part of the world but it is more prevalent in more developed countries; mostly type 2. A much bigger increase in these cases is expected to occur in Africa and Asia and this is because of the changes in lifestyles owing to the trend of urbanization. A change in feeding lifestyles from traditional to the western diet is a significant factor seen as playing a big role in this upward diabetic trend.
Signs and symptoms of Diabetes
The commonest symptoms of diabetes include a reduction in body weight, polyuria or frequent urination, an increase in thirst (polydipsia) and hunger (polyphagia). These symptoms which are exhibited in type 1 diabetes patients may occur very fast in the first few weeks or months. The development of these signs is slower, undisclosed or even missing in type 2 diabetes.
Protracted high blood glucose can result in the assimilation of glucose in the eye lens which affects their shape, leading to a disrupted vision. Most of diabetic patients complain of hazy vision before they are diagnosed with the condition. Also, there are various types of skin rashes that may develop in patients with diabetes referred to as diabetic dermadromes.
Problems associated with diabetes mellitus
There is a potential risk of each type of diabetes developing into long-term problems. Such complications normally develop after a period of between 10 and 20 years. Damage to blood vessels has been identified as a probable long-term complication. The risk of cardiovascular (ischemic heart condition) disease is doubled by diabetes with stroke and peripheral vascular conditions being the main ‘macrocascular’ health conditions.
Diabetes causes microangiopathy (damaged capillaries). Diabetic retinopathy can interfere with the formation of blood vessels in the retina and result in poor vision and even blindness. Diabetic nephropathy, which refers to the effects of diabetes on kidneys, may result into the kidney tissue damages as well as the loss of small or increasingly bigger quantities of protein in urine. This can in the long run lead to chronic kidney complications that will necessitate dialysis.
Diabetic neuropathy, the effect of diabetes on the nervous system, is another health condition associated with diabetes. Generally, it causes tingling, numbness and pain in the patient’s feet. This increases the risk of skin damage because of abnormal sensation. When neuropathy combines with the vascular ailment in the legs, there is an increased risk of foot problems (foot ulcers) which is hard to treat and sometimes amputation may be the only option. On the other hand, proximal neuropathy causes painful muscle degeneration and weakness.