(MENAFN - Arab News) Diabetes, also known as the "life style disease," is rapidly turning into a modern-day epidemic. Due to a luxurious, sedentary life style and unhealthy food habits, thousands are joining are its ranks every day.
Globally there are currently 336 million people who have diabetes. This figure is set to rise to over 550 million by 2030. The epidemic is causing the death of 4.6 million a year, or one victim in every 7 seconds. Diabetes is among top 10 causes for disability, resulting in life threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, lower limb amputations and blindness. Ironically, 50 percent of people with diabetes are undiagnosed.
World Diabetes Day is tomorrow and the Ministry of Health is waging an awareness campaign.
There are two type of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 diabetes represents 90 percent of diabetes cases in Saudi Arabia. Usually, the disease either resulted from or was exacerbated by unhealthy dietary habits, lack of exercise and the prevalence of obesity. These key factors have resulted in diabetes becoming a silent killer.
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health is not only providing treatment to all those affected but also indulged in efforts for preventive measures and mass education. There still is a long way to go.
The prevalence of diabetes is in Kingdom is at an alarming level Over 25 percent of the adult population is suffering and that figure is expected to more than double by 2030. Half of the people over 30 years of age are prone to diabetes. Saudi Arabia has the second highest rate of diabetes in the Middle East and is seventh highest in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Some reports suggest that the Kingdom spends approximately SR 30 billion every year on the treatment of diabetes. A patient's treatment costs the government SR 5,000 per year, if there are no complications. Those would increase the cost considerably. The treatment of one common diabetes complication, renal failure, costs the government between SR 98 and 180 thousand per year for the dialysis of only one patient.
Adding to those costs are the indirect burden of diabetes, caused by lack of productivity as a result of disability or death. These expenditures and burdens are tremendously high and immeasurable.
Loss of vision is one of the primary concerns for persons with diabetes. Approximately two thirds of diabetics are likely experience loss of vision after 35 years of diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy very often results in impaired vision. Diabetes is 25 times more likely to lead to blindness than any other conditions. A person with impaired vision due to diabetic retinopathy usually experiences difficulty in daily life. They may see dark spots or have restricted side vision due to decreased contrast sensitivity.
Jahangir, a Pakistani expatriate in the Kingdom, has diabetes. He is unable to drive a vehicle at night hours due to poor vision. Several other diabetes patients had to return to their home countries as they had lost the ability to work. Poorly controlled diabetes may cause problems while driving, which may lead to traffic accidents, warns the Saudi Diabetes & Endocrine Association (SDEA). It said that low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and visual impairment are the main problems diabetic drivers may experience.
The WHO estimates that every year more than one million limb amputations occur globally. Around 85 percent of those are believed to be avoidable if appropriate medical attention had been given at an earlier stage. Saudi Arabia has a high amputation rate, compared to other countries.
A condition known as the diabetic foot, involving a lack of feeling, ulcers that do not heal, bone softening, gangrene and other complications, is a result from nerve damage and constricted blood flow in the foot caused by diabetes.
People must act now to prevent the rapidly growing disease, said Khalid Abdul Rahman Tayeb, director of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Al-Nour Specialist Hospital in Makkah. He was chairman of the Ministry of Health committee on diabetes in Kingdom.
He said that one out of four adults in Jeddah are affected with the disease and all stakeholders should help prevent diabetes in the Kingdom.
The control of diabetes prior to surgery is particularly significant. Providing guidance to patients on how to take care of their feet and telling them what to do if complications develop will reduce the number of complications and prevent amputations.