World Diabetes Day

Over the past several years, the words ‘diabetic’ and ‘epidemic’ are often appearing together – it’s a disturbing reality that health officials point to, as the disease can cause an array of serious health complications.

World Diabetes Day takes place each year on Nov. 14, and it’s an official United Nations World Day.

The date was chosen because it marks the birthday of Frederick Banting, who, along with Charles Best, is credited with the discovery of insulin. While many events take place on or around the day itself, a themed campaign runs throughout the year.

World Diabetes Day brings together millions of people in more than 160 countries to raise awareness of diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are chronic, life-long conditions that require careful monitoring and control. Without proper management they can lead to high blood sugar levels which can result in long-term damage to organs and tissues. For example, cardiovascular disease which, according to the International Diabetes Federation, is the major cause of death in people with diabetes, accounting in most populations for 50% or more of all diabetes fatalities, and much disability.

Kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) can result in total kidney failure and the need for dialysis or kidney transplant. Diabetes is an increasingly important cause of renal failure, and has become the single most common cause of end stage renal disease.

Also, nerve disease (diabetic neuropathy) can lead to ulceration and amputation of the toes, feet and lower limbs. Loss of feeling is a particular risk because it can allow foot injuries to escape notice and treatment, leading to infections and amputation.

Finally, there is the risk of developing eye disease (diabetic retinopathy), which is characterized by damage to the retina of the eye which can lead to vision loss.

These are just some of the reasons why it’s so important for people to keep a careful watch on their health, and practice preventative measures for Type 2 diabetes which is often, but not always, associated with obesity.

Being significantly overweight can cause insulin resistance and lead to elevated blood glucose levels.

Besides Nov. 14 being singled out as World Diabetes Day, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. There are a number of reasons why dedicating an entire month to the cause is appropriate.

There are currently 366 million people living with diabetes. And according to the International Diabetes Federation, the figure is set to rise to more than 550 million by 2030. Diabetes is also responsible for 4.6 million deaths a year – one every seven seconds.

Other starting statistics – diabetes is among the top 10 causes of disability, resulting in life-threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, lower limb amputations and blindness.

Awareness is critical – statistics show that 50% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed.