By Dr. Chaitendra Gautam
India has about 77 million individuals with diabetes in India, and the number, researchers predict, is expected to rise to over 134 million by 2045. The major reason behind this is rapid shifts in lifestyles over the past couple of decades.
Lifestyle factors such as obesity and a lack of physical activity raise the risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, now the disease affects all age groups, including children and infants. But yes some people are more at risk than others. So, if you are over 45, overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, have an inactive lifestyle, or have a family history of type 2 diabetes, you are at higher risk. And if your doctor talks about screening, do pay attention.
Quite a lot of people fail to control the disease – and the reasons are many, including improper or inadequate counselling of the patients who are not much familiar with the disease and the lack of regular screening to ensure its effective management.
The hemoglobin A1c test and the fasting plasma glucose test are the two most common ways of screening today. Glycosylated hemoglobin, or simply A1c, helps diagnose prediabetes or diabetes and also shows the blood sugar levels of an individual over a 3-month period. It measures the percent of hemoglobin in our red blood cells. An A1c of 5.7-6.4% is a marker of prediabetes and 6.5% or above points to the diagnosis of diabetes.
The fasting plasma glucose test (FPG test) measures your blood glucose level once after a minimum of eight hours of fasting. For this test, a result of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, and anything over 126 mg/dL indicates diabetes.
Lack of regular testing and follow-up of diabetes can lead to serious consequences. The disease can severely affect many organs such as the kidneys, liver, heart etc. What needs to be understood is that diabetes cannot be cured and can be only managed. Here is why regular check-ups are important for diabetes.
Early diagnosis is important
Diabetes is silent and so early diagnosis is necessary to save other organs from damage. People with a family history of diabetes should get checked periodically. Everyone above 35 years of age should go for an annual diabetes check-up.
Generally, once diagnosed, it takes some time for the doctor to figure out and prescribe the right medicine dose to the patient. Regular monitoring and follow-up with the physician is important to ensure that you are taking the right dose to avoid both hypoglycemia, which can occur if the dose of the medicine is higher than what is needed; and hyperglycemia, which occurs when the dose given is not adequate.
Regular screening to check various organs
High blood sugar level has an adverse effect on your eyes, nerves, blood vessels, kidney, heart and other organs. Sugar also acts as fuel for various cancers. If a diabetic patient has any infection in the foot, he or she does not get to know because a diabetic does not feel pain sensation. This condition called gangrene is common among diabetics and may lead to loss of limbs. It often affects the toes, fingers and limbs, but can affect muscles and different other organs. So, diabetics must undergo regular screening to check various organs.
The body gets immune to the dose prescribed
A patient becomes resistant to the dose prescribed by the doctor after a few months. So, it is important to readjust the dose of the medicines or insulin regularly.
Important health checks for People with Diabetes
As mentioned above, If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you have a higher risk of other serious health conditions, including heart, kidney and eye disease. So, it is important to undergo some important medical screenings. These Include:
1- A1C to measure your average blood glucose level over the past two to three months.
2. Albumin-to-Creatinine Ratio (ACR) to check how much albumin is in your urine.
3. Blood Pressure check as diabetes raises the risk for high blood pressure, which increases your chances of heart disease, stroke, vision loss and kidney disease.
4. Bone Mineral Density scan to estimate the density of your bones as diabetics are at an increased risk of various bone and joint disorders.
5. Body Mass Index (BMI to indicate whether you’re at a healthy weight
6- Cholesterol & Triglycerides blood tests to measure your cholesterol and triglycerides, blood fats that circulate in your bloodstream.
7- Dilated Eye Exam to rule out signs of diabetic eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy.
8. Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) to rule out any kidney disease as diabetics are at a higher risk of kidney disease.
(The author is Founder and CEO of Aceso Health. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)