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Here’s What You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Living With Diabetes – And How To Manage It

Early detection is the key. Close to one-third of all people with diabetes are unaware they even have the disease.

Thinking about diseases and debating whether you should go for a health screening even when you feel perfectly fine is hardly the way most people envision spending their free time or weekends doing.

Dubbed Asia’s silent killer, Type 2 diabetes could change your mind as its symptoms are often overlooked at the early stage. This is because they are relatively inconspicuous including experiencing fatigue, blurry vision, hunger and thirst, numbness in limbs and having slow to heal wounds.

Across the globe, the rate of diabetes has nearly quadrupled to 422 million in 2014 from 108 million in the 1980s. In Singapore, this problem has also seen rising notoriety, with the International Diabetes Federation revealing the country has the world’s second highest percentage of population with the chronic disease among developed nations. Further, diabetes is also the second leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Singapore.4

This is part of the reason Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declared war on diabetes in 2016. As World Health Day approaches on 7 April 2017, here are three things you need to know to take more control of the disease.

# 1 Healthy people can still be afflicted by the disease

While it is true that people most at risk of contracting diabetes are often overweight, over 40 or with a family history of the disease, increasingly, even healthy people between 30 and 40 years old and young children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Often, people wrongly assume that because they are fit or do not feel ill, they cannot have diabetes. Oblivious that they may have the disease, they go on with their unhealthy lifestyle habits that may worsen their condition.

The fact is that anyone can get diabetes but not know it as the damage from the disease will take years to show. Going on the current trajectory, it is estimated that nearly one million Singaporeans will be afflicted by this condition by 2050. It is also estimated that, because they were never screened, close to one-third of all people with diabetes are unaware they even have the disease.

Part of the problem is the increasingly sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle of Singaporeans who are spending more time in front of screens, sleeping less and exercising less.

You can lower your risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes by getting better access to information, upkeeping a healthier and more active lifestyle and eating right.

Unlike what many may think, sugar and saturated fats consumption are not the only factors determining whether a person contracts Type 2 diabetes or not, rather it plays a role in a broader spectrum – the need to consume a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight.

Exercise plays an important role in reducing the risk of developing diabetes too. Many health professionals recommend targeting thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days.

As part of the nation’s fight against diabetes, the Government is also introducing subsidised screenings and consultations from 1 September 2017 to encourage at-risk and even healthy Singaporeans to regularly monitor their health statuses.

# 2 Being diagnosed does not mean you are in immediate grave danger

Being diagnosed with diabetes can be overwhelming and confusing, especially if you are under 40 or keep an active lifestyle. You are suddenly bombarded with information that you have to be put medication and may be at risk of serious health complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and amputation.

However, once diagnosed, you can still lead a normal and healthy life by making minor adjustments to your daily routine.

By and large, no single food or food category is off-limits. You can still continue eating all types of foods, even carbohydrates, fats or sugary treats. Of course, this has to be done in moderation and together with proper management of the disease.

Exercise is also highly recommended and may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular conditions. If you played vigorous physical activities, there is no requirement to immediately stop doing so. However, it is important that you prevent your blood glucose from going too high or low during and after exercise. On the flipside, if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle, change is certainly required.

By consulting your doctor, you can continue or implement any exercise programme. Some tips to exercise safely include testing your glucose levels before, during and after a workout, taking the right dosage of insulin having a snack at hand and taking a break in between if you require.

# 3 Managing diabetes is costly and unaffordable

Being a diabetic can be expensive, especially considering the medical costs including medication, doctor consultations as well as heathier food options which typically cost more than normal food options.

When complications arise, the financial burdens only increase. In addition to not being able to work and consequently earn a living, people in such situations also have to cope with hefty medical bills.

Ironically, those who suffer from diabetes are often the ones who do not have adequate insurance coverage as they are either rejected from buying insurance policies, subjected to exclusions or are required to pay extra premiums.

The good news is that this at-risk group can now enjoy better insurance coverage with AIA Diabetes Care, a brand new critical illness product tailored specifically to pre-diabetics and Type 2 diabetics. The product provides policy holders sufficient protection against five diabetes-related complications including blindness, kidney failure, stroke, heart attack and coronary artery by-pass surgery at a guaranteed level of premium that will remain unchanged for the duration of the policy, up to age 80.

Supplemented by the AIA Vitality programme, AIA Diabetes Care also encourages policy holders to be proactive about adopting lifestyle choices that will lead to healthier outcomes and enable them to manage their diabetic condition. Those on the programme enjoy premium discounts, cashbacks and reward vouchers when they upkeep an active lifestyle, purchase healthier foods and go for regular health screenings.

Early detection of diabetes is key

With early detection, proper management of diabetes can kick in from the start and it is possible for people to live long, healthy and just as meaningful lives. This is why going for regular screenings is vitally important.

Even after being diagnosed with the disease, you can reverse the effects by continuing to upkeep healthy lifestyle choices and closely monitoring the disease. AIA Diabetes Care also provides the financial protection you need as a diabetic patient.

This article was contributed to us by AIA Singapore

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