By Bisma Mujahid
Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. It can happen when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, the insulin it produces isn’t effective, or your body can’t produce any insulin at all.
Every year, we celebrate World Diabetes Day on November 14.
November 14th is a significant date in the diabetes calendar because it marks the birthday of the man who co-discovered insulin, Frederick Banting. Banting discovered insulin in 1922, alongside Charles Best.
Every year on WWD, that is, the 14th of November, people wear this symbol as a sign to spread awareness. Adopted in 2007, the blue circle logo signifies a global symbol for raising awareness about diabetes.
World Diabetes Day (WDD) was created in 1991 by the IDF and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations day regarding awareness in 2006 with the passage of United Nations Resolution 61/225.
The number of people with diabetes has more than doubled during the past 20 years.
Diabetes is a global issue; approximately 463 million adults worldwide have diabetes, and 90% of these people suffer from type 2 diabetes. After China and India, Pakistan ranks third in the world in diabetes prevalence. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan in 2016 was 11.77%, in 2018 it was 16.98%, and in 2019 it was 17.1%. In 2022, 26.7% of adults in Pakistan will be affected by diabetes, making the total number of cases approximately 33,000,000. This number is alarmingly high. Diabetes is also increasing with each passing year. Currently, this is the world’s biggest challenge to combat. Worldwide organizations organized World Diabetes Day this year too, with the aim of “EDUCATION TO PROTECT TOMORROW.” They believe everyone should know about diabetes and precautionary measures.
With diabetes, our body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in our bloodstream. A level of blood sugar above 250 mg/dL or below 50 mg/dL is dangerous and requires emergency treatment.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which is most common in adults. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). This reaction destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, called beta cells. This process can go on for months or years before any symptoms appear. Type 2 diabetes is primarily the result of two interrelated problems: Cells in muscle, fat, and the liver become resistant to insulin. Because these cells don’t interact in a normal way with insulin, they don’t take in enough sugar. The pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels.
One of the most worrying features of this rapid increase is the emergence of type 2 diabetes in children, adolescents, and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is often milder than type 1. But it can still cause major health complications, especially in the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, nerves, and eyes. Type 2 diabetes also raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. Insulin is required for people with type 1 diabetes and sometimes necessary for people with type 2 diabetes. Syringes are the most common form of insulin delivery, but there are other options, including insulin pens and pumps. It is made by beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin’s main job is to move glucose from our bloodstream into the body’s cells to make energy. If you don’t have enough insulin, glucose builds up in your bloodstream rather than getting into your cells to provide energy. In most high-income countries, the cost of insulin is covered by the government, but in Pakistan, as in many other LMICS, the patients have to pay themselves when purchasing this life-saving drug from private pharmacies, whereas in government hospitals, the insulin products are provided for free. Insulin was first used to treat a person with diabetes on January 11, 1922, when Leanord Thompson, a 14-year-old boy dying from type 1 diabetes, became the first person to receive an injection of insulin.
Even though there’s no diabetes cure, diabetes can be treated and controlled, and scientists are working on a ground-breaking weight management study to help people put their type 2 diabetes into remission. Remission is when blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels are in a normal range again. This doesn’t mean diabetes has gone away for good.
What everyone must know or needs to know: Every cell in the human body needs energy in order to function. The body’s primary energy source is glucose, a simple sugar resulting from the digestion of foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches). Glucose from the digested food circulates in the blood as a needed energy source for our cells. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach. Insulin bonds to a receptor site on the outside of cells and acts like a key to open a doorway into the cell through which glucose can enter. When there is not enough insulin produced or when the doorway no longer recognizes the insulin key, glucose stays in the blood rather than entering the cells. So diabetes is the rise of glucose in the bloodstream due to a relative lack of the hormone insulin, which is responsible for the transfer of glucose from the blood into the tissues or cells. Normally, as we eat and the glucose rises in the bloodstream, insulin-producing cells in the pancreas sense the rise in the glucose in the bloodstream. They then secrete the appropriate amount of insulin to drive the glucose into the body’s tissues, lowering the level in the bloodstream back to an appropriate range.
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