A nervy affair

A nervy affair
Sunday, Apr 22, 2012
The Star/Asia News Network

For the past three months, Peter Davies, a 55-year-old diabetic, has been experiencing loss of feeling and numbness in his hands and feet. This feeling can occur any time of the day, even when he's sitting down watching television.

Lim Ai Lee, a pastry chef in her 40's, frequently feels as if her feet are on fire. She doesn't understand what is happening or why she is experiencing this awful sensation, but it is affecting her job.

Another example of someone suffering from nerve damage is Johan Rais. He has been having this annoying tingling sensation in his hands and feet for the past one year.

Diabetes is the most common cause of this type of nerve problem. Do not ignore the signs of nerve damage as a result of long-term high blood sugar levels.

The best way to prevent diabetes from getting out of hand is to take a blood sugar test regularly, and guided by the results, make some lifestyle and dietary changes.

Diabetes is a silent disease, with more than 50 per cent of diabetics being unaware that they have the disease; it is one of the leading causes of death in Malaysia.

Many people first become aware that they have high blood sugar issues only when they develop nerve damage or one of its life-threatening complications, such as leg amputation, blindness, kidney disease, heart disease or stroke.

Being overweight or obese can hasten the onset of diabetes complications.

According to the 2006 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) conducted by the Health Ministry, one in seven Malaysians is diabetic. However, this may just be the tip of the iceberg. Many leading experts in the Malaysian medical and nutrition community now believe that diabetes afflicts up to a staggering 22 per cent of the country's population - meaning one in five adults in Malaysia is diabetic.

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are elevated. Most of the food eaten is turned into glucose (sugar) for the body to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the body's cells. When you have diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin, or cannot use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in the blood.

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