HAVING devoted himself to spreading the knowledge of diabetic care and treatment in all of Thailand’s 77 provinces Dr Thep Himathongkam, chairman and CEO of Theptarin Diabetes Center and Hospital, is the key person in this country to get advice on treating this disease.
The best way to get better is by losing weight which will help reduce insulin resistance.
“Doing so is about will-power. If you have the will-power and are strict about what food you consume and overcome the obstacles to exercising – diabetes will definitely improve.”
Another key issue for diabetics is restricting the intake of sugar and on this Dr Thep said the level of restriction depends on the severity of the disease.
“So when you have it and it’s not severe we want to prolong this state so that it doesn’t worsen because otherwise we would have to further restrict our lifestyle.”
While the sugar substitute Equal is widely used by patients, it is a bit controversial because it contains aspartame but in Dr Thep’s opinion it is fine to have this product which should not lead to any problems.
However this famous endocrinology specialist mentioned that there is a misunderstanding about diabetics’ cuts and wounds not healing because this problem only crops up at the severest level when other complications also set in with these concerning eyes, kidneys, numbness plus stroke and heart attack in the long term.
For instance if diabetics who regularly take medicine get cuts or wounds while working in the kitchen these should heal because it is at the most advanced stage when blood is not flowing properly, feet are numb, that they would not do so.
At the frontline of treating diabetes is the widely-used medicine Glucophage.
“It’s good and not expensive.”
Dr Thep advices diabetics to buy and use blood glucose meters regularly particularly to find out whether certain foods cause their blood sugar to rise and if so consumption could be controlled.
“And also get hemoglobin A1c test done every two to three months. We want this to be below 7 to prevent other diseases from setting in.”
Some people might not know what endocrinology is all about and actually this is a multifaceted study of hormones and treating diseases that they cause with two key ones being diabetes and thyroid disorders.
In setting up Theptarin Diabetes Center and Hospital Dr Thep created a few new professions in this country which previously were not there with these being diabetes educators, nutritionists and feet specialists.
“The reason I became interested in diabetes is because I wanted to give something new to Thailand, things that this country didn’t have before but now does.
“We have taught people how to take care of their feet, we have taught the public sector too, taught in all 77 provinces.
“We have trained 3,500 people and in five years the number of leg amputation in Thailand dropped by 80%
“People didn’t know how to take care of their feet – doctors didn’t know how to treat patients so we spread this knowledge.
“But if your blood sugar is under control there shouldn’t be any problems – it’s only an issue when it’s high.”
TOP: An eye-catching lapel pin issued by the American Diabetes Association. Photo: Alan Levine (CC-BY-2.0)
INSET: Dr Thep has spread the knowledge of diabetic feet care to all 77 provinces of this country.
By Nina Suebsukcharoen