Every month should be diabetes and blood pressure “month” – find out the symptoms and think about being screened or tested.

1. DIABETES

The WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates that diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2016. While the cause of Type 1 Diabetes is not currently known nor preventable, the majority of people with diabetes have Type 2 Diabetes which can be managed.

According to Diabetes South Africa, signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, boils and itching skin
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands or feet.

WHO says that symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes can be similar (but often less marked) than Type 1 Diabetes which can result in the disease being diagnosed several years after the onset, once complications have already set in.

Link tip:
Visit your doctor or pharmacy for a screening and also find out how you can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

2. HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

According to the KZN Department of Health, high blood pressure or hypertension is one of the leading causes of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and premature death in South Africa. It is also called the ‘silent killer’ as two out of three people with high blood pressure are unaware of it so you should be tested regularly.

What are the risk factors for high blood pressure?

  • A family history of high blood pressure
  • An unhealthy diet, including excessive salt intake
  • Being overweight can increase the risk 2-6 times
  • Stress, which can differ from person to person
  • Age – the older you get, the greater the chance of developing high blood pressure.

Pregnancy, certain medications, other diseases (e.g. kidney disease) and smoking can also cause high blood pressure.

Link tip:
Visit your doctor or pharmacist for BMI test (i.e. Body Mass Index) and have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Article sources:
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
https://www.diabetessa.org.za/managing-diabetes/
http://www.kznhealth.gov.za/comms/HealthChat/May-2018.pdf