In an interview with GN Focus, Dr Omar Dhaimat, Director at Diabetes Center and Consultant Endocrinologist, Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital, stresses the importance of why diabetic patients must have a comprehensive plan
What are some of the common symptoms of diabetes that we shouldn’t ignore?
Symptoms of diabetes vary significantly, from no symptoms at all to extreme symptoms such as excessive weight loss, increased thirst, excessive urination, fatigue, dizziness, numbness and blurry vision.
Patients with type 2 diabetes usually have vague symptoms, sometimes showing no symptoms at all. The disease, however can be diagnosed through a simple blood test. The symptoms, though can sometimes be aggressive in patients with type 1 diabetes, such as sudden weight loss, excessive urination and thirst.
If we do not pay attention to some of these symptoms, the patient might end up in the hospital or even in the intensive care unit.
Children can experience a number of symptoms including abdominal pain and nausea. If we do not pay attention to some of these symptoms, the patient might end up in the hospital or even in the intensive care unit.
Along with high blood sugar, we also get patients with symptoms of hypoglycemia or low sugar as well. Some of its symptoms include sweating, excessive heart rate, tiredness, dizziness, headache and extreme hunger pangs. Symptoms of low blood sugar are common in people taking treatment for type 2 diabetes.
It is important for people over the age of 40, with or without the risk factors, to make sure to check their sugar regularly.
What treatments are currently available in the UAE for people with diabetes? What is the future of diabetes treatment in the country?
Patients with diabetes in the UAE have a lot of treatment options to manage their conditions, from simple oral hypoglycemic pills to the insulin pump. There are many medications available that can improve the life of diabetics, while improving their control over glucose levels.
Moreover, simple glucose-monitoring machines are available everywhere, helping people to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
When it comes to the future of diabetes treatment, a variety of new agents are in development. We expect that new agents will be available in a few years, which can be administered as one shot under the skin every six to 12 months, simplifying diabetes treatment. There will also be some agents that can be given as tablets once a week or once a month. While there is no cure for diabetes today, diabetes resesearch is reaching a stage where stem cells transplantation can be achieved in the near future, solving many of our currentc concerns.
How could we prevent diabetes in children and teens?
Diabetes in children is a big problem. We are seeing an increase in the rate of type 1 as well as type 2 diabetes in the UAE. The latter is caused by obesity, sedentary lifestyle, poor exercise routines and unhealthy eating habits.
Obesity is a concern among children in the UAE, with some studies showing a large number of kids in schools being overweight or obese.
The key to preventing diabetes in obese kids is weight loss. An active lifestyle, combined with a healthy diet in schools as well as at home can help kids shed excess weight.
Parents, teachers and authorities must work together to combat obesity in children, which is a major risk factor for diabetes.
Could you suggest some steps to manage diabetes for life?
Managing diabetes involves the participation of the patient, family and the medical service providers, which include the doctor, nurses and other medical personnel involved in the treatment.
A patient should be aware of the disease and its complications. He should know how to prevent complications, when to go for the general check-up and when to consult the eye and foot specialists so as to avoid associated complications.
He or she should always check his/ her blood sugar as recommended by the medical personnel. It is not just a chronic disease but a chronic process as well, and we must not give up on checking the sugar and other comorbidities.
Despite all the improvements in the management of diabetes, there are always complications, even in the best places in the world. However, we can try to minimise the complications. Diabetes is a systemic disease, affecting all parts of the body. So the minute a patient is diagnosed with diabetes, he or she must have a clear plan for the management of the disease, which can be created with the help of a physician. Moreover, studies have always highlighted that diligent management early on helps reduce complications. We should try to get out of the phase of denial as soon as possible and accept the disease to deal with it efficiently.
The idea of the diabetes center at Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital-Dubai is to provide comprehensive care to a patient under one roof. He/she can see an endocrinologist, a podiatrist, a dietician, as well as a diabetic educator in one visit. Along with the general check-up, the patient can also go for the foot and eye examinations and all the blood tests. This helps the patient to understand the risk of the disease.
Since diabetes management is a team work, the diabetes centre makes it easy and convenient for the patient to get the required treatment and also consult other specialists, if needed. This team work also helps reduce complications of diabetes, affecting other parts of the body, including kidney, liver, eyes and heart.
To know more about the diabetes centre at Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital-Dubai, visit www.hmg.ae