Over the recent years, diabetes (commonly diagnosed as Diabetes Mellitus) has rapidly become one of the biggest public health concerns of our time. It is a long-term condition that results from unsteady blood sugar levels. The most common variants of the disease are Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Gestational diabetes.
Type 1 DM occurs as a result of pancreatic failure, especially where the cells responsible for insulin secretion-islets of Langerhans- are rendered inactive. This leaves the victim very dependent on Insulin shots. Type 2 DM occurs as a result of insulin tissues’ inability to respond to insulin produced by the pancreas into the blood stream. This therefore means that the body suffers from having low blood sugar levels. Type 2 DM is the most common form of diabetes especially among the youth and children. This problem is mostly caused by excessive weight or lack of enough exercise. Gestational DM occurs only among pregnant women. Their hormonal imbalance leads to excessive production of insulin into the blood stream hence high blood sugar levels. In most cases however, the condition ceases immediately after birth.
The most common symptoms of DM include intense thirst, intense hunger, excessive urination, weight gain, unusual weight loss, fatigue and the inability of cuts and wounds to heal.
How does diabetes affect one’s social and personal life?
Living with diabetes determines what one’s quality of life will turn out to be. In addition to the physical and psychological demands, people living with diabetes experience a lot of social stigma-which comes with a lot of different feelings and experiences and can even affect the ability of the victim to manage their own care.
Social stigma can take the form of discrimination in the work place, rejection by romantic partners, parents being judged, blamed or even stereotyped and faulted for “passing diabetic genes” to their children.
Stigma that occurs among people living with diabetes has been found to lead to mental anxiety and depression. Victims will be shamed for having to find and use public toilets where they can get half way naked-just for them to get their scheduled insulin shots, This kind of stigma increases with more intensive therapy and this may be due in part to the therapy’s more visible nature: finger sticks, shots, and pumps are all part of the mix, though the public may not fully understand they are important for proper care.
Diabetes especially when detected in its advanced stages can have detrimental effects on one’s finances, where for instance parents must channel any savings, they had for something else, or even when on a limited budget, having to maybe use school fees money or taking bank loans so as to finance their children’s treatment. This causes a lot of instability in the family setup.
Another common symptom in diabetic males is sexual Erectile Dysfunction. Diabetic men become more susceptible to ED as they age. Above the age of 50, the possibility of having difficulty with an erection occurs in approximately 50%-60% of diabetic men. Above age 70, there is about a 95% likelihood of having some difficulty with erectile dysfunction. This in a relationship or marriage can mean rejection, feelings of shame, worthlessness, hopelessness and anger.
A survey of over 5,000 people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the market research company dQ&A found that;
- 76% of people with type 1 diabetes said they feel stigmatized, compared to 52% of people with type 2 diabetes.
- 83% of parents of children with type 1 diabetes reported feeling stigmatized, much higher than the 74% for type 1 diabetes This may seem surprising, as many parents reported feeling blamed for “causing” their child’s diabetes – a major example of public misperceptions about diabetes.
- 61% of people with type 2 diabetes on intensive insulin therapies (i.e., using multiple daily injections or an insulin pump) reported feeling stigmatized, compared to just 51% of people taking pills only.
Nobody wants to live in a world where people are treated differently on the basis of having a health condition. Let us all learn to love, support and live well with everyone living with diabetes.