Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Diabetes: How to avoid it and what are its symptoms?

With information from Marlon Augusto Yovera Aldana, Medical Surgeon of the National University of Piura and Master in Clinical Epidemiology by the Peruvian University of Cayetano Heredia.

Diabetes: According to the World Health Organisation, it is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which can cause serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Though there is no cure, it can be controlled with a healthy diet, moderate exercise, taking medicines and proper education.

According to the National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Disease Control (CDC Peru) of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), the disease currently causes 9,586 new cases in the first quarter of 2022 alone.

How many types of diabetes are there?

Experts point out that the American Diabetes Society identifies four types:

  • Diabetes Type 1: It appears in childhood and the cause is autoimmune, that is, the defense cells, instead of attacking the disease-causing bacteria or virus, attack the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. When insulin disappears from the body, it must be completely replaced.
  • Diabetes Type 2: Type 2 diabetes is most common in Peru. About 98% of patients in Peru have this type of diabetes. Unlike the first type, its complications can be prevented if the patient controls his diet. In this case, insulin is not absent: it is at 50%, so if you have a proper diet, you can perform well.
  • gestational diabetes: It usually occurs in overweight pregnant women and reflects the development of diabetes during the gestational period.
  • Other types of diabetes: This includes diabetes from direct injury to the pancreas, such as pancreatitis, or from use of pills such as corticosteroids, which raise glucose, among others.

What are the symptoms of Diabetes?

Experts comment that thirst and frequent urge to urinate are symptoms of diabetes and occur only in 1% of patients. Others may be without symptoms and with high glucose.

“Most onset incidentally due to labor control or during a routine checkup. The 1% who have these symptoms present them when they have a serious condition that may require hospitalization, an Endocrinologist at Maria Auxiliadora Hospital Dr. Marlon Yowera warned.

What are the things to be kept in mind to avoid diabetes?

Experts emphasize that a healthy diet is key. This does not mean restricting our diet, but taking care of the proportion of intake of certain food items.

“Carbohydrates, flour are important, but many times it is exaggerated. A typical Peruvian dish, for example, rice with chicken and potatoes, contains 90% starch while the normal is 50 to 60%. This is an excessive percentage. , which is added to a sedentary lifestyle. The food is not bad, but often the proportions are insufficient,” he explained.

Similarly, Yowera recommends focusing on the amount of fiber, fruits and vegetables consumed and the portions at the three main meals of the day. Foods that should be avoided in the diet are those that contain refined sugar.

“Diabetics should not eat products with sugar, but those who are not should try to limit it. Sugar intake should always be proportionate to physical activity”, he explains.

Experts also highlight the importance of having annual blood tests starting at age 45 to identify possible diabetes. In case of women with risk factors such as obesity, acanthosis (brown tinge at the back of the neck), polycystic ovaries or women who have given birth to babies weighing more than four kilograms, he also suggests starting the test from the age of 35 .

What is the treatment of diabetes?

Treatment involves eating less to correct this insulin level, avoiding overeating. Insulin or drugs that increase its action are also given. Medical treatments vary according to the type of diabetes presented by the patient.

“In the case of type 1 diabetes mellitus, the only treatment is to use insulin. This is classically administered by four to five injections per day. A current alternative is to use an external automatic dispenser called an ‘insulin pump’ or Called the ‘artificial pancreas’, which is placed in the abdomen, providing the insulin you need in real time, improving the quality of life of these patients”.

In Peru, there are not many patients with DM1, and this type of treatment is available, but not affordable due to its cost. In addition, trained medical personnel are needed to help administer these devices, the researchers said.

“In the case of a patient with type 2 diabetes mellitus, they do not require insulin at the onset of the disease. However, after 10 to 15 years of poor control, ie too much glucose, they deplete their insulin stores, which they must use permanently as if they were a type 1 diabetic,” he said.


Marlon Augusto Yovera is a surgeon from the Aldana National University of Piura and has a Master in Clinical Epidemiology from the Peruvian University of Cayetano Heredia. Currently, he works as an endocrinologist at the María Auxiliadora Hospital and as an associate researcher at the Universidad Scientifica del Sur, where he is also a university professor. In addition, he teaches at San Martín de Porres University. Prior to this, he has worked as a doctor at the Huancavelica Regional Hospital. He is the author of various scientific investigations on diabetes.

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