Between creepy clowns and diabetes, the latter is a lot scarier. Here’s why — diabetes can be a silent killer because many symptoms are easy to miss, and the disease will lead to some serious complications. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cited recently that one in nine Singaporeans has diabetes, and three in 10 over the age of 60 have the disease.
Just what is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is a long-term medical condition where our body’s blood glucose levels remain constantly higher than normal. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the insulin is simply ineffective.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that controls the use of blood glucose (simple sugar) for energy. It plays an important role in keeping our blood glucose levels low.
Without insulin, our body will not be able to use or store the glucose that comes from food. The body will then use fat as a source of fuel for the body instead, which in turn will give rise to acute complications such as blindness and kidney failure.
Can I develop diabetes?
Here’s a quick breakdown on the two major types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
This is the less common type between the two, often diagnosed in childhood. Type 1 diabetes is a type of condition where the body is unable to produce insulin due to a damaged pancreas. Although it can occur at any age, Type 1 diabetes is usually more common in children and young adults. Insulin is needed for treatment, and the complications can be sudden and life-threatening.
Type 2 diabetes
This is the most common type of diabetes that affects most Singaporeans. In Type 2 diabetes, your body either becomes resistant to insulin or your pancreas does not produce enough insulin for your body.
You run a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you have an unhealthy lifestyle and diet.
How can I tell if I have diabetes?
Here are seven common symptoms of the disease:
Studies have shown that many who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes did not even suspect they have the condition. A blood glucose test can detect diabetes, and screening is highly recommended to detect the chronic disease in its early stages.
I don’t think I’m at risk of diabetes…
Type 2 diabetes can occur in anyone, even younger adults and children.
You are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if these apply to you:
If you are between 18-39 years old, you can take the online Diabetes Risk Assessment (DRA) to find out if you are at risk. Those who are assessed to be at risk of diabetes will be eligible for a government subsidy and need only pay S$5 for a full screening test.
For those above 40 years old, it is recommended that you go for cardiovascular risk screening (which includes diabetes) every three years.
Can diabetes be cured?
Diabetes cannot be cured but it can be controlled. Your blood glucose can be managed with proper diet and exercise if your diabetes is mild. However, if you have a more serious condition, oral medication or insulin injections will be required. For those who are overweight or obese, losing weight will reap significant benefits.
To learn more about diabetes and ways to fight this chronic condition including screening and financial assistance, visit the diabetes microsite.