Diabetes is a major cause of early illness and loss of life globally. In Singapore just over 10% of the adult population has diabetes and the figure is set to climb in the next few years.
There are type 1 (previously known as juvenile diabetes) and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is sometimes referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and tend to occur later on in life.
Sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habit, obesity and family history of diabetes are all linked to the disease. If diabetes is left uncontrolled, it can lead to blindness, stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and many chronic illness.
We recommend adults over the age of 40 to undergo screening blood test for diabetes. Early detection of pre-diabetic situation allows you to control or even reverse the condition.
In very early phase of diabetes, your doctors will advise on lifestyle modification. This will involve altering your diet and switch to food of lower glycaemic index, regular cardiovascular exercise and weight lost. Medication may be required if such lifestyle intervention did not yield the desired effect. There are many types of diabetic medication and your doctor will work with you to individualize your treatment.
Patients with known diabetes are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and should undergo early health screening for heart problem.
- What is glucose intolerance?
- Glucose intolerance is the grey zone between normal and diabetes. This is diagnosed by a fasting sugar (glucose) level between 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/L. The initial management is a two prongs strategy of exercise and diet to modify your lifestyle. Jogging, cycling, swimming are good aerobic exercises and help to lose weight too. You should consult a dietitian to improve your diet.
- I am in my late forties and my doctor told me I have diabetes. Does it mean I have to self-inject insulin regularly?
- No, there are many oral medications to improve glucose metabolism and control the diabetes. Over 80% of type 2 diabetic patients will not require insulin in their life-time.