In 1961, five young friends went for physical check-ups to Dhaka Medical College Hospital on a sudden plan. Of them, four were found to have no issues. But the other friend, Mahbub-uz-Zaman, was diagnosed with diabetes.
"This was a different time. Nobody wanted to admit that they have diabetes," Mahbub, now 84, told this correspondent yesterday. "I chose not to hide it. From then on, I have passed 60 years following a healthy routine."
Not only did Mahbub do that, but he went on to become the incumbent chairperson of the Patients Welfare Committee of Birdem hospital.
For all his efforts to raise awareness of the disease, the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh honoured him with a golden crest yesterday, at a discussion programme on the World Diabetes Day.
This goes along with doctors' words, who say diabetes does not need to be a burden if it is diagnosed timely.
According to International Diabetic Federation, there are more than 84 lakh diabetic patients in Bangladesh. It estimates the number to rise to 1.14 crore by 2030 and 1.5 crore by 2050. Around half of the diabetic patients in the country show no symptoms before clinical diagnosis.
In such a context, experts suggest anyone over the age of 30 to go for diagnosis.
But it can even affect those below that age. For Miraz (27), sudden diagnosis of his type-1 diabetes in early 2020 was "disastrous".
"It has drastically reduced my stamina and enthusiasm for life — it has turned out to be catastrophe for me," the bank employee told The Daily Star. "I now need to take Tk 1,000 worth of insulin every month," he said with regret.
According to the US Center for Disease Control, diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how human body turns food into energy. Most of the food human beings eat is broken down into sugar (i.e. glucose) and released into the bloodstream. When blood sugar goes up, it signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let blood sugar into the body's cells for use as energy.
If one has diabetes, the body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use the insulin it makes as well as it should. Over time, insufficient insulin can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
There are two types of diabetes: type-1, which occurs when the body can't produce any insulin, and type-2, in which the body becomes resistant to insulin.
Diabetes-related complications include damage to large and small blood vessels, which can lead to heart attack and stroke, and problems with the kidneys, eyes, feet and nerves.
Meanwhile, doctors suspect Covid-19 to be a catalyst for additional risk for diabetic patients.
Although there is no study that shows how Covid-19 impacts diabetic patients yet, physicians said diabetic patients should remain cautious.
"We have observed that the death rate among diabetic patients with Covid-19 is much higher than general Covid-19 patients," Dr Shahzada Selim, associate professor of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) told The Daily Star."Because diabetes harms the kidney, neurons, eyes, heart, brain and other organs, diabetic patients develop critical illnesses easily if infected with the novel coronavirus."