Mrs Bukky, a 65 year old grandma, has lived with diabetes for more than 22 years but she is relatively free from most of the chronic complications of diabetes mellitus. She looked like any other woman of her age; going about her daily activities with grace and is fully involved in her petty trading, social and church activities.
What’s the secret, one may ask?
Or is she just lucky?
Has she paid some prices to be enjoying her present state of health?
Can one eat his cake and have it?
Opportunities and luck favor the prepared mind! Five tips to increasing one’s chances of preventing the chronic complications of diabetes mellitus are discussed below:
1. Good control of blood glucose – good control of one’s blood glucose within the normal range over a long time goes a long way to minimizing development of the chronic complications of diabetes. Most of the chronic complications of diabetes mellitus have been associated with chronic hyperglycemia (ie raised blood glucose). Target blood glucose for each person living with diabetes is personalized now based on age of patient, life expectancy, presence of other illnesses, motivation and support. But, it has been shown from landmark studies /researches that good blood glucose control over a long time helps a lot to prevent the chronic complications. With a certain disciplined lifestyle (diet and exercise) and medications, one can achieve a persistent good blood glucose level.
There is the concept of legacy effects with regards to diabetes control in which it is known that good glucose control or otherwise from the time of diagnosis of diabetes mellitus affects the complications the patients may or may not develop several years later. Bearing this in mind, every person living with diabetes should strive to achieve good glucose control from the onset of diagnosis. One reaps what he/she sows!
2. Chronic complications of diabetes mellitus can be minimized by addressing adequately the other illnesses that are oftentimes associated with diabetes. For example, people living with diabetes often, also, are afflicted by hypertension and disorders of lipids. These associated illnesses must be treated at the same time that glucose control is taking place. Good diabetes care is not only about blood glucose control.
3. To prevent the chronic complications of diabetes mellitus, a diabetic patient who is overweight or obese must strive to lose weight and those that engage in tobacco smoking should stop such. This is because tobacco smoking and obesity are strong risk factors for cardiovascular diseases which have been shown to be the major causes of death in diabetic patients.
4. Good foot care practices, regular diabetes clinic visits and patient’s participation in diabetes self management education are important measures to prevent chronic complications of diabetes. Diabetic foot ulcer and lower limb amputations are preventable and are very expensive to treat. Self care is an important component of diabetes care and the skills for self care are imparted via diabetes self management education.
5. Finally, people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus should register and attend specialized diabetes clinics run by most tertiary hospitals. If one has access to a diabetologist/endocrinologist to take care of him or her, the better for the person. There are several practictioners out there with questionable competencies promising people living with diabetes are cure for diabetes. Most of them are quacks and will end up causing more harm than good.
When these tips are implemented, persons living with diabetes will reap the benefits in form of diabetes free of chronic complications. From the above, person’s living with diabetes are not at the mercy of diabetes per se. They can do something to help themselves minimize or prevent the chronic complications of diabetes.