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Diabetes, The Silent Killer of New Zealand

Maria Petelo, aged 45 lies in her hospital bed in ward 3 of Middlemore Hospital, South Auckland, unable to believe what the doctors had told her. Except for a constant// feeling of thirst, a craving for sweet drinks, frequent visits to the bathroom and bouts of dizziness she had been fine. She was surprised to be rushed to the hospital, following a visit to her GP. The blood tests revealed that her blood sugar levels had reached an alarmingly high level, putting her at increased risk of dehydration, confusion and coma. Nearly 20-50% of patients who experience this condition die. Maria was lucky to have been admitted into a hospital to restore her blood glucose levels to normal. She was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, a disease that had threatened her life before she knew she had it.

Diabetes also referred to, as the silent killer may lie dormant for several years before it can be detected. Most people, once diagnosed with the disease, fail to take it seriously or rather tend to ignore the impact of the diabetes epidemic that has just started to gather momentum. This deceptively benign disease triggers the onset of other serious conditions such as stroke, blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, pneumonia, and tooth abscess. It is the important causes of disability, necessitating the amputation of toes, feet and lower limbs.

The hospitals in Hawke's Bay are overloaded with diabetics and medical personnel find it hard to meet the demand for medical service. In addition, thousands are being turned away from waiting lists. With this being the scenario in New Zealand, it might not be long before diabetics flood hospitals, leaving in very little resources for other major diseases.

'It's already here. We're already gasping for breath but if it's hard now it's going to get a lot harder,' says Dr Brandon Orr-Walker, clinical head of the Middlemore Hospital, in response to the looming type-2 diabetes epidemic. Nearly 250, 000 New Zealander
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