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Treat diabetes at its early stages – Dr Ahlijah

Dr Lenusia Ahlijah, a specialist in family medicine at Tema Polyclinic has called on Ghanaians to treat diabetes at its early stage as it could lead to serious complications.

She said delays with its treatment could lead to complications such as heart diseases, stroke, kidney diseases, eye problems, dental problems, nerve damage among other related health issues.

Dr Ahlijah told the Ghana News Agency in an interview at Tema as the world marked International Diabetes Day that the disease was quite deadly as about four million people died from it globally in 2017.

Speaking on the global theme for the commemoration: “Family and Diabetes,” Dr Ahlijah said diabetes is a chronic illness that occurs when the blood sugar is too high and cannot be controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.

She said there were times that the body could not produce enough insulin or produces less insulin; and there were times too, when the insulin was not able to control the blood glucose well, because the body was not utilising the insulin enough and when that happened you have too much glucose in your blood leading to health problems in the body.

Dr Ahlijah explained that there were three types of diabetes and type one occurred when the body was not making enough insulin, which resulted from the immune system attacking and destroying the cell in the pancreas that produced the insulin.

She said type one is mainly diagnosed in young children and young adults but may also be diagnosed at any age and people with type one diabetes would have to take daily insulin injection in order to stay alive.

According to her, unhealthy habits such as smoking, irregular exercise, intake of alcohol, overweight, poor eating habits made people susceptible to contracting type two diabetes which was common in middle age persons and older persons.

Dr Ahlijah added that the type two accounted for about 90 per cent of cases of diabetes stressing that research showed that about 50 per cent of type two may be prevented by avoiding the risk factors associated with diabetes.

She said the third type of diabetes was gestational diabetes and was common in pregnant women “most of the time the sugar level normalises after delivery, however, some women develop type two later on in life”.

She added that diabetes was quite common world-wide as in the United States for instance about 33.3 million people were recorded as having diabetes in 2015 and that made about 9.4 per cent of the population.

In Ghana, about 518,400 people representing 3.6 per cent of the population were found living with diabetes in 2017.

Dr Ahlija said it was about time Ghanaians were aware of the symptoms of diabetes that include; increased thirst and urination, fatigue, blurred vision, numbness in the feet and hands, sores that do not heal and unexplained weight loss.

She said the causes of illness were overweight, high blood pressure, high level of cholesterol, having a history of gestational diabetes, infection from genetic and environmental factors such as infection viruses that cause destruction of the pancreas illness.

She urged people living with diabetes not to lose hope but try and take care of themselves by paying attention to their health care providers, avoid smoking and alcohol, eat a well-balanced diet, partake in regular exercise to lose weight.

World Diabetes Day is the world’s largest awareness campaign reaching a global audience to draw attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keep diabetes firmly in the public and political spotlight.

It is marked every year on November 14, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best.

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