It is estimated that about 4.5 million South Africans suffer from diabetes and even more unknowingly suffer from pre-diabetes. This critical and chronic illness remains the second most common form of death in the country and South Africa is noted as having the highest number of adult diabetics on the African continent. With this in mind, it’s important to consider the facts surrounding this condition so that you can recognise the symptoms and seek proper treatment. Bloom Financial Services, in conjunction with Momentum’s Health4Me, explores some of the questions surrounding this chronic disease.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia). If you suffer from diabetes, then it means that your body does not produce enough insulin, which is a hormone required to regulate your body’s sugar levels. Insulin is able to transfer sugars to cells in your body where it is used for energy. Without insulin, your blood sugar continues to rise and, if left untreated, high blood sugar can cause damage to your organs like the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and/or blood vessels.
In addition to glaucoma, an annual eye exam will also alert medical professionals to other serious conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. This is because an eye test will examine the condition of the blood vessels in your retina, which is an indication of the health of your body’s blood vessels and so can alert the eye care practitioner or doctor to other serious medical problems or conditions.
Types of diabetes you should know about
1. Diabetes mellitus
There are two different types: Diabetes mellitus Type 1 and Diabetes mellitus Type 2.
- Diabetes mellitus Type 1, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas produces insufficient insulin to manage blood sugar levels.
- Diabetes mellitus Type 2, differs from Type 1, as the body resists the effects of insulin. This is the most common form of diabetes.
2. Diabetes insipidus
Diabetes insipidus is quite an uncommon disorder that causes an imbalance of fluids in the body. The kidneys remove far too much fluid resulting in an increased output of urine.
3. Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy where a woman’s blood sugar rises. While this type of diabetes is temporary, it can affect the health of the unborn baby so steps should be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and child.
How to check for diabetes?
There are various ways to test for diabetes. A simple blood sugar test is the most common. This is where a blood finger prick test is taken, either randomly or after fasting, in order to test your blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar level is too high, you will be sent for additional testing to confirm whether or not you have diabetes. You can have a blood sugar finger test at a Dis-Chem, Clicks, MediRite or Pick n Pay Pharmacy Clinic as part of your annual health assessment benefit.
What are the early signs of diabetes?
How can you tell if you have diabetes? There are some telltale signs to look out for that may appear mild but are worth taking note of or mentioning to your GP. The most symptoms of diabetes could include some of the following:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Increased hunger
- Blurry or poor vision
- Sores or injuries that don’t heal
- Frequent infections
- Unexplained weight loss
Men may suffer from decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction while women could develop frequent urinary tract and yeast infections.
Who is at risk for developing diabetes?
According to the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation, the following people are most at risk for developing diabetes:
- Type 1 Diabetes
Having a family history of this form of diabetes increases your risk of developing the disease.
- Type 2 Diabetes
While having a family history of this form of diabetes also puts you at a higher risk, there are a number of other factors to take into account, many of which can be controlled by making sensible lifestyle changes. These include:
- You increase your risk for developing diabetes if you’re overweight or obese. Watch your diet and avoid excess fats and sugars.
- High blood pressure can cause many complications, one of which is diabetes. High blood pressure is quite common in older people and can be controlled with medication.
- High cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of fat that builds up in your body, which over time can form a stiff plaque that clogs your arteries. This can increase your risk of developing diabetes or having a heart attack or stroke. A healthy diet and regular exercise can combat high cholesterol.
Am I covered for diabetes with health insurance?
Yes, Health4Me Silver and Gold plan members will receive unlimited cover for chronic medication in accordance with chronic benefits of Momentum’s CareCross Network of prescribed chronic medication formulary. The Health4Me benefit covers medication for 26 chronic conditions, which includes Diabetes Insipidus, Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 and Diabetes Mellitus Type 2.
How do I get chronic medication for diabetes?
Chronic medication is medicine that you need to take on an ongoing basis, maybe even for the rest of your life. In order to register for the right chronic medication for diabetes, you will need to stick to the following procedure:
- Visit an approved network GP to receive a diagnosis
- The GP will inform us of your diagnosis by calling our 0800 10 29 03 number
- The GP will complete a chronic medication benefit application and email it through to email@example.com
- Once approved, the GP will be able to give you a prescription for your chronic medication
Where do I receive my chronic medication?
Health4Me will cover the cost of your chronic medication provided that it has been approved and prescribed by a network GP from the list of 26 chronic conditions. It’s very easy to receive your medication. Simply fax or email your prescription through to a Medipost Pharmacy and let them know where to deliver this to. You can fax through to 0866 82 33 17 and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Diabetes is a common chronic disease that has serious implications for your quality of life. You can receive the right chronic medication to help manage your diabetic symptoms with a Silver or Gold health insurance plan by Bloom. Contact one of our trained consultants and make sure you and your family are covered for chronic benefits.
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