Diabetes is a serious disease, so we need to apply all the medical resources we have available to work with it. There is more help in Corozal than you might think.
What Diabetes Is
As in other districts of Belize, diabetes mellitus, commonly called diabetes, affects many residents. It means either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the cells do not respond properly to the insulin produced. This leads to elevated blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. If the diabetes is not treated, the person can develop cardivascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney failure, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. But most diabetics are probably detected by a blood test, screening for a number of things. It is also relatively easy to test blood sugar at a health fair or other presentation by medical folks.
A random blood sugar test that shows more than 200 (mg/dL) should be followed up by a fasting test. In this, you do not eat or drink anything (except plain water) from before you go to bed until when you take the test the next morning. If your fasting blood sugar test is above 125 (mg/dL), you should do another fasting blood sugar test on another day. If the second test is also above 125, then you are probably a diabetic. If your fasting test was not that high, but it was above 100, then you should watch it and get tested occasionally.
Any fasting result over 110, or anytime over 200, you should report to your doctor, if you are not already a diagnosed diabetic.
Another test you can get, a little more expensive, is a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This test indicates your average blood sugar for the bast two or three months. An A1C of less than 5.7 percent is considered normal. An A1C of 5.7 to 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. 6.5 or above indicates diabetes.
Here’s a good article on diagnosis, from the Mayo Clinic.
In Corozal, the National Health Service or individual doctors will diagnose and treat diabetes. The NHS will be much cheaper, but may involve more waiting for treatment. The important thing is to get started on treatment as soon as possible, before things get much worse.
Meters, Lancets, and Test Strips
Blood sugar testing can be expensive. All diabetics should be tested or test themselves regularly, especially those that are insulin dependent. But monitoring is essential.
If you have a glucometer (blood sugar meter) and have a good source for lancets and test strips, that’s great. If not, the Belize Diabetic Association will try to help. They have discovered that the Solus brand meters and test strips are not only less expensive than most, but they give results about as accurate as meters and strips that cost twice as much. In Corozal Town, there is a diabetic clinic on Fridays, by appointment. Judy Wilson serves as a representative of the Belize Diabetic Association from about 9 to 10am on Fridays, at the Polyclinic II, at the Corozal Hospital. Currently, the meters cost $50 each, and they come with 10 test strips. Extra test strips are $1 each, and if you can’t afford a whole canister of 50 strips ($50) you can buy them in whatever quantity you need, if you bring your own canister.