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'Silent pandemic' rages on, claiming more lives, weighing down healthcare systems.
Shyam A. Krishna & Samihah Zaman | Gulf News
Filed on 2021-05-02 | Last updated on 2021-05-02 04:03:47
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DUBAI: Diabetes kills at least three times more people each year compared to COVID. Another grim fact: Among the reported COVID deaths, at least 40% were diabetics. The disease is usually recorded as a COVID-19 "comorbidity". So this is a really bad time to be a diabetic. But first, we need to understand what causes diabetes, and its knock-on effects on the body, and on society.
 
The numbers are staggering: Every eight seconds, someone dies of diabetes somewhere in the world. Diabetes killed 4.2 million people in 2019, at least thrice more than deaths from COVID.
 
How I turned my life around to manage diabetes
Abu Dhabi: Delilah Ruby Dsouza had always had a strong sweet tooth, and loved to indulge in sodas and desserts. Yet, when the 49-year-old banker from India was diagnosed with diabetes, she immediately turned her life around to manage the chronic disease.
 
“I had first started feeling fatigued, and dropped six kilograms in just 20 days. My friends warned me that it could be diabetes, but when the doctor confirmed it, I was very distraught. I knew the journey would not be easy, and it wasn’t,” Dsouza told Gulf News.
 
“But my doctor was very supportive. He kept in touch with me throughout the day, and although it has been just about two weeks, I believe I have been able to take the first steps towards living healthy,” she added.
Dsouza made the switch right away. She did not wait after receiving her diagnosis. This included measuring her blood glucose three times a day, cutting down on carbs and maintaining a record of her daily activities.
 
Lifestyle change
“I woke up the next morning, and decided I was going to do everything I could. I measured my blood glucose after I woke up in the morning, then again two hours after lunch and again before dinner. I also cut down on carbs, switched all the white bread and rice to brown, and eliminated [added] sugar from my diet,” she explained.
 
Doctor’s advice
Doctors say that early diagnosis is possible is relatively inexpensive: via testing of blood sugar. A gloucometer costs between Dh65 and Dh105. It works by analysing a small amount of blood, usually from a fingertip. Keeping tabs of blood sugar at home is one of the most affordable interventions to curb diabetes incidence, say experts.
 
Treatment of diabetes involves diet and physical activity along with lowering of blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications, said Dr Mohamed Shafeeq, internal medicine specialist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai.
 
About 436 million people around the world live with diabetes today, including about 19.3 per cent of the UAE’s adult population between the ages of 20 and 79 years. In the UAE, the expat Asian population is most at risk of developing diabetes, especially Indian expats. The good news is that diabetes can be managed well with medical advice and a healthy lifestyle.
 
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