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Diabetes is a growing concern and according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019, there is about 1 in 5 adults or around 3.9 million people aged 18 years and above living with diabetes in Malaysia. Diabetes has portrayed an increasing trend over the years and it is a serious health condition that we should all keep an eye on.1
As signs of diabetes may not be apparent at the early stage of disease, it is crucial to get screened early and take necessary steps to prevent it from worsening if you are identified as a high risk individual for diabetes.5
Who should be screened for diabetes?
Screening is mandatory for people who experience diabetic symptoms such as tiredness, increased thirst, increased urination, unexplained weight loss.2
On the other hand, for individuals who do not experience any symptoms (known as asymptomatic), diabetes screening is recommended for those who are at increased risk, typically those who are overweight or obese (BMI ≥23 kg/m2) or have a waist circumference ≥ 80 cm for women and ≥ 90 cm for men and have 1 or more of the followings: 2,3
Have family members that have diabetes (First-degree relative diabetes)
History of heart diseases such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure
High blood pressure
Has impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose level (also known as pre-diabetes) on previous testing
Conditions that may be more prone to insulin resistance such as severe obesity
Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby ≥ 4kg or have polycystic ovarian syndrome
Taking antiretroviral treatments or atypical antipsychotic drugs
Remember, you are advised to get screened even though you do not exhibit any risk factors mentioned above and it should be started at the age of 30 years onwards.2 If your tests show normal results, annual screening would be sufficient.2
Which screening tests to go for?
There are quite a number of ways to test for diabetes. Generally, the most commonly used screening test would be the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) testing.4
How do the tests work?
Fasting plasma glucose test - You have to fast overnight and a blood sample will be taken the next day to measure your blood sugar level.5
Oral glucose tolerance test - In this test, you fast overnight, then your blood sugar level will be measured before and after 2 hours of taking a sweet drink.5
A1c test - It measures your average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months. This test does not require fasting.5
Random blood glucose test - You can take this test any time, as fasting is not a must. This test will measure your blood sugar level at that point of time.5
Know your numbers 2,5
Pre-diabetes is a condition when your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. Pre-diabetic patients would be at high risk of getting diabetes if it is not well taken care of.8
You can manage your diabetes and live a healthy lifestyle by taking care of yourself daily.7 Here are some tips to follow to help you cope with diabetes better.
Have a healthy balanced diet. Plan your meals with a good mix of starches, fruits, vegetables, proteins and fats. Pay attention to foods that are high in sugar like cakes and ice cream as they can affect the body's blood sugar level.6 You may talk to your doctor or dietician about the choices of food that fit you.
Regular exercise. Plan your exercise schedule and aim for about 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.6 Regular exercise also helps your body use insulin more efficiently.6
Quit smoking if you smoke. Quitting smoking can improve your overall blood circulation and the risk for problems like heart attack and stroke can be lowered. This may help prevent the long-term harmful effects of diabetes.7
Check your ABCs (A: A1c; B: blood pressure; C: Cholesterol). Working towards your ABC goals could help lower your chances of some diabetic problems.7 Consult your doctor about the targets or goals of your ABCs.
Take your medications. Diabetic patients will usually be put on oral antihyperglycemic medications to better control blood sugar level together with lifestyle and dietary modifications. Make sure to be compliant to your medications and do not stop taking them abruptly without the directions of the doctor.7
It is important to catch and manage diabetes at an early stage as untreated diabetes can lead to severe complications such as eye damage, kidney damage and heart diseases.2 If you are 30 years old and above, make sure to check your blood glucose at least once a year and practice a good healthy lifestyle to prevent worsening of diabetes.2
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Disclaimer: As a service to our users and general public, DOC2US provides health education contents. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
-This article is supported by MSD-
Infographic NHMS 2019. [online] Available at http://iptk.moh.gov.my/images/technical_report/2020/4_Infographic_Booklet_NHMS_2019-_English.pdf. Accessed on: 30th October 2020.
MOH Clinical Practice Guidelines. Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. 6th Edition. Available at https://www.moh.gov.my/moh/resources/Penerbitan/CPG/Endocrine/QR_T2DM_6th_Edition_QR_Guide_Digital.pdf. Accessed on: 29th May 2021.
MIMS. Diabetes Mellitus. Available at https://specialty.mims.com/diabetes%20mellitus/diagnosis. Accessed on: 29th May 2021.
American Diabetes Association. Screening for Diabetes. Available at https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/suppl_1/s21#:~:text=The%20FPG%20test%20and%20the,to%20patients%2C%20and%20less%20expensive. Accessed on: 29th May 2021.
Mayo Clinic. Diabetes. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371451. Accessed on: 29th May 2021.
Mayo Clinic. Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/art-20047963. Accessed on: 29th May 2021.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Managing Diabetes. Available at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes. Accessed on: 29th May 2021.
Mayo Clinic. Prediabetes. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278. Accessed on 8th June 2021.
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