It’s unusual for a 13-year-old to keep visiting doctors, but for Mumbaikar Aadil Sharma, this was normal until a few years ago. Aadil suffered from skin infections, which defied attempts at diagnosis. Doctors concluded that the obese boy’s poor hygiene was causing the infections. A timely diagnosis saved Aadil when a doctor detected that he was pre-diabetic (though previous tests had shown his sugar levels as normal), after spotting blackish discolourations around his neck. After metabolic surgery, all complaints disappeared, and now Aadil leads a normal life.Warning signs
Some of the signs that could indicate that you are pre-diabetic include:
* A craving for sweets
* Inability to control hunger
* Cravings for high-calorie food
* Frequent thirst
* Frequent urination
* Black pigmentation at the neck, armpits, breast folds (beneath the breasts) and around the thighs.
There are two forms of diabetes – type 1 and 2. Type 1 patients suffer from a lack of secretion of insulin and are diagnosed early. Type 2 patients develop it after one to eight years of being pre-diabetic. In this time, a sufferer whose body has a previously good secreting power for insulin finds it hindered by insulin-resistant factors, including fat cells and intestinal hormones. To keep sugar levels normal, the body has to secrete disproportionate amounts of insulin to the body’s sugar levels in the body.
Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity, which is why dealing with obesity is important to control pre-diabetes. This isn’t easy, as Indians are genetically pre-disposed to diabetes. Our genes are meant better to fight starvation than over nutrition, and this pre-disposition gets a high trigger when combined with obesity.
Testing for diabetes at least once a year is a good idea, because if pre-diabetes is diagnosed, then a person can tackle it and avoid the risk of contracting full-blown diabetes. Diabetes is preventable but it is important to understand that it is a serious disease. It is a disease not of sugar, but of the entire vascular system of the body.
To prevent one from becoming pre-diabetic, remember the following:
* Pursue some regular physical activity on a daily basis. This will increase the insulin sensitivity of the muscles and body.
* Do not challenge your system by overburdening it with calories. Do not consume a lot of carbohydrates, sweets, fats, etc – as these are all addictive foods.
* Take care of your nutritional needs in an intelligent fashion, rather than going in for fad diets.
* If you are pre-diabetic – which in almost 88 per cent of cases is associated with excess obesity – go to a obesity clinic in a hospital.
* It is important to realise treatments can control diabetes, but not prevent organ damage. If a sufferer undergoes metabolic and bariatric surgery, then organ damage can be prevented.
(Inputs by Dr Jayshree Todkar, bariatric and metabolic consultant, LH Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai)
From HT Brunch, November 13
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