World Diabetes Day: 10% people in Kashmir suffer from chronic disease; 27% are pre-diabetics

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Srinagar: Riyaz Ahmad, 65, is learning to walk all over again. In July, he had to have his left foot amputated, after he developed a serious infection owing to diabetes.

Ahmad, who has been suffering from diabetes for the last 10 years, developed a wound in January that refused to heal. “By the time I consulted a diabetologist, it was already too late,” he said.

He said that many diabetes patients are unaware of the gravity of the diabetic foot problem. If not treated in time it could require amputation and even lead to death. “Awareness could save many diabetics from losing a limb,” Ahmad said.

Similarly, another middle-aged male visited SKIMS, Soura Srinagar last week. He had developed a blister on his foot due to the usage of a hot water bottle.

“He was unaware of it. With time, the blister got ruptured and infected. During the examination, we checked his blood sugar levels which were around 400-500 mg/dl. He was immediately put on insulin and was put in touch with the plastic surgeon. He required amputation otherwise it could’ve turned life-threatening,” the doctor said.

Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. It can happen when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin it produces isn’t effective. Or, when your body can’t produce any insulin at all. Clinical manifestations present with the following signs and symptoms of diabetes — frequent urination, persistent thirst, and hunger. Others are weight loss, glucosuria, dehydration, fatigue, blurred vision, tingling, and numbness in hands and feet.

If proper care and precautions are not taken, diabetes can lead to complications such as diabetic foot, blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and lower limb amputation.

A 2022 study titled, “Assessment of Knowledge and Practice Regarding Foot Care among Type 2 Diabetic Patients Attending Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS)’ was published in an Epidemiology International Journal.

It was aimed to assess the knowledge and practice level among diabetic patients regarding this disease and to find the association of knowledge and practice level with selected demographic/ clinical variables.

The study was conducted on 100 patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes (a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high) attending the tertiary care institute.

The findings concluded that “while the knowledge regarding foot care was satisfactory, the practice was poor among type 2 diabetic patients. Therefore, there is a need to conduct awareness programs about foot care among type 2 diabetic patients.”

Dr. Mohammad Hayat Bhat, Consultant Endocrinologist at Government Super specialty Hospital, Government Medical College, Srinagar said diabetes is turning into a major health issue world over and changes the life of a person suffering from it in many ways.

Quoting figures from a survey, he said 8 to 10 percent population in Kashmir region suffer from diabetes. “27 percent of the population comprise of pre-diabetics, 5 percent are obese, 1 percent is overweight and 4 percent suffer from gestational diabetes (which some women may go on to develop during pregnancy),” he said. 

He said the risk factors associated with diabetes are a family history of diabetes, being overweight, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, age, high blood pressure, and a history of gestational diabetes.

“Nowadays, we are observing a combination of three conditions in diabetic patients. They report a mixture of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Also, many young patients are coming to us with symptoms of diabetes,” he said.

He said the reasons behind these conditions can be attributed to high intake of carbohydrates, unhealthy dietary habits, sedentary lifestyles, and stress. “With the result, we see a lot of fat accumulation in the liver and abdomen of such patients.”

The doctor said nutrition, physical activity, and a healthy lifestyle can not only help in optimizing blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes but also delay the disease progression and the development of complications along with improving the quality of life. People with diabetes must ascertain to control their blood sugar levels, wear well-fitted shoes, avoid treating their corn at home, and avoid smoking.”

He added, there is a need for greater education for healthcare workers to be able to better detect and diagnose the condition early and provide care, as well as for people living with diabetes to improve their self-management and avoid complications. 

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