Need for diabetes screening grows

2016-12-07 06:02

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More than half a million children aged 14 and younger are estimated to be living with type 1 diabetes.

This is according to the 7th Diabetes Atlas conducted by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

The study also reveals the estimated figure of people generally living with diabetes is expected to grow from 415 million to 642 million by 2040.

Diabetes has been labelled as the disease that has killed more people than HIV/Aids, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria combined. This is due to the further 318 million adults estimated to have impaired glucose tolerance, which puts them at high risk of progressing to diabetes.

Diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, blindness, renal failure and lower-limb amputation. More than a third of type 1 and type 2 diabetics tend to also develop some form of damage to their eyes.

According to the IDF, type 1 diabetes usually begins in childhood or adolescence and is sparked by a faulty autoimmune response that causes the body to destroy the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, which in turn leads to an insulin deficiency.

It further reveals that approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes are a type in which insulin is produced, but the body’s cells do not respond to it correctly. The body would instead become resistant to insulin and it would often be associated with obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, advancing age, family history, ethnicity and high blood glucose during pregnancy.

Due to the progressive nature of the disease, the majority of patients will eventually need insulin to be added to their treatment.

Dr Ntsiki Molefe-Osman, diabetes medical advisor at Lilly South Africa, encourages South Africans to educate themselves about the risk factors for diabetes, and to proactively screen for type 2 diabetes in a bid to modify its course and reduce the risk of complications.

The concern exists that of the 415 million people living with diabetes, an estimated 193 million are undiagnosed.

“A person with type 2 diabetes can live for several years without showing any symptoms of this chronic disease, during which time high and uncontrolled blood glucose can cause significant damage in the body,” Lilly South Africa states in support of this year’s IDF campaign, “Eyes on Diabetes”.

“There is an urgent need to screen, diagnose and provide appropriate treatment to people with diabetes, as well as screen for complications as an essential part of managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”

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