It was World Diabetes Day on Wednesday (14 November) and to mark the occasion, the Health Services Authority conducted screenings and blood sugar checks at the Cayman Islands Hospital.
It was part of an initiative aimed at preventing life-threatening complications from the disease, by detecting symptoms early.
At the Cayman Islands Hospital, they estimate about 9% of the population of Cayman has diabetes and many more people are prediabetic, that is they are at risk of developing the illness later on.
With consequences as potentially life-threatening as stroke, kidney failure and heart disease, screenings are being encouraged by the HSA.
425 million people worldwide are living with diabetes, but half of them are believed to be undiagnosed.
Compared to the rest of the world, the disease is more commonplace in Cayman, which is a concern for Diabetes Educator Winsome Jefferson.
“We really want persons to come out and get screened because diabetes is very prevalent in the Caribbean and many persons have diabetes and they’re not even aware of it because they’re not aware of the symptoms,” Ms. Jefferson explained.
Symptoms like frequent urination and extreme thirst can be indicators of the disease, particularly if you have a family history of diabetes and a large waist size.
Ms. Jefferson added: “Persons can also feel very tired, fatigued and lethargic. Some persons get blurred eyes, some persons can have pins and needles in their fingers and feet.”
The HSA says early detection is key, but simple lifestyle changes can manage the onset and worsening of the condition.
“Stay connected with what you eat because your food is your medicine and your medicine should be your food,” said Nutritionist Tamara Riley.
She elaborated: “We want to guide people to understand it’s not just about getting your medication, it’s not just about getting checked, but we want you to stay healthy along the way.”
Although complications from the disease can be severe, including amputations and blindness, Ms. Riley said that was not a reason to put off getting screened.
“If you get that diagnosis of diabetes, it is not a death sentence. So we’re here to guide you and here at the HSA, we put our patients first,” Ms. Riley explained.
And if you are concerned about diabetes, the HSA encourages you to speak to your doctor.