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myths, truths and challenges in controlling the disease
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In Brazil, according to data from Vigitel released in November 2023, diabetes affects 10.2% of the population. However, the impact of the disease goes beyond these numbers, since diabetes is often silent on the estimate that, for every patient diagnosed, there is an individual living with the disease, without adequate diagnosis or treatment. This means that around 44 million Brazilians may be facing the challenges of diabetes, but less than half receive the treatment needed to control the condition.

What is diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that interferes with the way the body processes glucose (sugar) present in the blood. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body's cells, and insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, plays a crucial role in facilitating the absorption of glucose by cells. However, in the case of diabetes, there is a problem in the production or action of insulin, resulting in an accumulation of glucose in the blood.

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There are different types of diabetes. diabetes 'type 1' occurs when a dysfunction of the immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to continued dependence on insulin to control blood glucose levels. Diabetes 'type 2' It is associated with insulin resistance, caused by the pancreas' insufficiency in producing insulin or by the cells' inability to respond adequately to the action of this hormone. This type of diabetes is generally linked to obesity, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits. In addition to these types, there is also gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy and requires specific care.

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Myths and truths about diabetes

According to Marcela Rassi, an endocrinologist and member of the Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabology, in an interview with CNN, one of the main myths related to diabetes 'type 2' is that it is caused by excess sugar intake, which mainly affects obese or overweight people, or is a disease exclusive to the elderly. However, she points out that this is not entirely true. For the doctor, what determines the development of diabetes 'type 2' These are factors such as genetics, lifestyle and personal medical history. Marcela also highlights that it is true that the disease can cause kidney complications and increase the risk to oral health, but diabetes can be prevented or delayed by controlling weight through a healthier lifestyle and regular physical activity.

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The endocrinologist also highlights that diabetes diagnosestype 2' are increasing among children and adolescents, which indicates the importance of better understanding the factors that contribute to the emergence of this condition in younger age groups.

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Prevention and control of diabetes

According to the national president of the Brazilian Diabetes Society (SBD), Levimar Araújo, in an article published by journalist Daniella Almeida from Agência Brasil in November 2023, early diagnosis is the first fundamental step towards effective diabetes care. The doctor highlights the importance of alerting the population about warning signs, such as increased abdominal circumference, family history of the disease, pregnancy and birth of children weighing more than four kilos, indicating that these groups should seek diagnosis as a priority.

Diabetes treatment requires strict control of blood glucose levels, which can be achieved through a balanced diet and, when necessary, medical monitoring for the administration of medications in the initial cases of diabetes. 'type 2'or insulin in cases of 'type 1' or advanced stages of the disease. Failure to treat diabetes can result in serious complications, such as retinopathy, which can lead to partial or total blindness, peripheral neuropathy, associated with the possibility of amputations, and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. In the case of gestational diabetes, complications can affect the baby, including neonatal hypoglycemia, birth of overweight children, premature births, iron deficiency and changes in cardiorespiratory functions, among other complications.

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Featured photo: Woman taking a blood sugar test at home (Reproduction: Getty Images Embed)

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