Launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), World Diabetes Day is celebrated every year on November 14. The day is observed by companies, health organizations, healthcare professionals and politicians to raise awareness about the disease.  According to the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), currently the number of diabetes patients in India is 70 million and it is likely to increase to reach 120 million in the coming 20 years. So, on the occasion of World Diabetes Day, we share with you some of the frequently asked questions about how to deal with diabetes. Dr. Sneha Kothari, Endocrinologist at Global Hospitals, Mumbai has answered the question. (ALSO READ World Diabetes Day 2017: These are the Early Symptoms of Diabetes).

What is diabetes mellitus?

It is a metabolic disease with high blood glucose levels either because the body produces inadequate insulin or there is resistance to the action of insulin.

How to diagnose diabetes?

Diabetes can be diagnosed by estimating glucose in blood and/or in urine. Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) can also be used to diagnose diabetes.

Why is it necessary to diagnose diabetes at an early stage?

Early diagnosis and optimal blood glucose control reduce the risk of damage to kidney, heart, eye, foot ulcers and amputations drastically.

How to deal with diabetes?

Diabetes is a life style disorder; hence what is expected out of every patient is lifestyle modification. You need to follow a good dietary habit and exercise regularly which helps in weight loss.

Tips for diet:

Avoid deep fried foods and sweets.

Use the plate method: Eat half a plate of vegetables and fruit, one quarter of the plate, lean protein food, and one quarter of the plate, whole grain food.

Limit your portion sizes.

Take smaller meals at regular intervals

Consume foods that are rich in fiber

Tips for exercise:

Do moderate-intensity exercise regularly at least 30 – 45  min. daily for minimum 5 days  a week

Build Physical Activity into Your Regular Routine e.g. :

At work, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or adding 10 to 20-minute walk during lunch.

Try parking at the far end of the parking lot or down the street.

At home, try taking on common chores such as vacuuming, washing a car, gardening, raking leaves

Work out on an exercise mat or ride a stationary bike or use a treadmill while you watch TV.

Do not smoke cigarettes or use any tobacco products.

Tobacco increases the risk for cardiac disease and peripheral vascular disease.

Take your medicines regularly

Take oral anti-diabetic agents and /or insulin as prescribed by your physician regularly to keep blood glucose as close to normal as possible

Monitor blood glucose levels and HbA1c as advised by your physician.

How to reduce the risk of developing complications?

The best way to prevent complications is to keep blood glucose under control and monitor end organ damage regularly.

Prevention of eye complications:

Visit your ophthalmologist at least once a year to screen for retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma.

Prevention of foot complications:

Examine your feet every day for evidence of skin breakdown, sores, or ulcers

Keep your feet clean and moist.

Wear properly fitting shoes and clean socks. Do not walk barefoot.

Keep toenails short

Look inside shoes before putting them on

Prevention of kidney damage:

Check creatinine in blood and protein in urine atleast once in a year

Patients with signs of protein in the urine should consult a nutritionist to determine protein intake in the diet.

Prevention of heart disease in patients with diabetes:

Keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control.

Aspirin can be added to prevent heart disease especially in those with other risk factors.

There are no specific recommendations about routine stress testing to look for heart disease in patients with diabetes.

Diabetes is a global epidemic hence to prevent its complications, as the old adage goes “Prevention is better than cure.”