Statement by Zane Desilva

November marks the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month and represents an opportunity for Bermudians to educate themselves about and protect themselves from, this deadly disease. Bermuda has not only one of the highest rates of Diabetes in the world, but we also are among the world's leaders in the amputation of limbs due to Diabetic complications.  This disease is often preventable and with proper care can be managed, allowing those diagnosed with Diabetes to have long, healthy and productive lives.

 

Diabetes occurs when the body either fails to produce enough insulin or is unable to use insulin effectively.  Without proper treatment, Diabetes can lead to life-threatening health issues.

There are three main types of Diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes - where the body's immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, the body can no longer produce the insulin it needs.

Type 2 diabetes - The most common form of diabetes, usually occurring in adults, but children and teens are more frequently being diagnosed with this condition. In type 2 diabetes, the body is able to produce insulin but it is either not producing enough or the body is not responding to its effects.  People with type 2 diabetes may remain unaware of their illness for years,  during which time their body is silently being damaged.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)  - Seen in women who are unable to
produce or effectively use insulin during their pregnancy. Gestational Diabetes in mothers normally disappears after birth.
However, women who have had GDM are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life. Babies born to mothers with GDM also have a higher risk of obesity and developing Type 2 Diabetes as adults.

People with Diabetes can develop serious health problems affecting the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. They also have a higher risk of developing infections. In Bermuda, diabetes is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. Maintaining blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol close to normal can help delay or prevent Diabetes complications.

All of us should be tested for Diabetes and be aware of the following warning signs:

Abnormal thirst and dry mouth
Frequent urination
Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
Constant hunger
Sudden weight loss
Slow-healing wounds
Recurrent infections
Blurred vision

Risk factors for Diabetes include

Obesity
Poor diet
Physical inactivity
Increasing age
Family history
Ethnicity
Poor nutrition during pregnancy

With close monitoring, proper diet and regular exercise all of us can prevent or minimize the effects of Diabetes. On behalf of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party, I encourage Bermudians to be aware of their blood sugar level, make healthier food choices and in consultation with your physician, introduce a regular exercise regimen.  In these economic times more than ever, your health is your wealth and you should do all you can to preserve, the only body that you have.