Ignore Facebook post promoting self-diagnosis of diabetes, Covid-19, and other diseases


“Natural Medicine for guys,” reads the text in a graphic shared on Facebook in Nigeria in November 2020.

The graphic makes several claims about how men can detect if they have a number of diseases.

It reads: “Go up a tree and take a leak, if your pee attracts ants, you got diabetes, if it dries fast, your sodium is high, if it smells like meat, your cholesterol is high, if you forgot to unzip, it’s Alzheimer, if you missed the tree, Parkinson’s, if you peed on your shoes, enlarged prostate if you can’t smell it, Covid-19.”

But experts warn that this advice is misleading and could lead to people making the wrong medical decisions.

Diseases and conditions differ

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin at all. Type 2 diabetes, often referred to as insulin resistance, is when the body’s cells don’t respond to or don’t effectively use the insulin the pancreas produces.

Alzheimer is a neurological disorder, which has no cure. It causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to die. It is diagnosed through standard medical tests, such as blood and urine tests, as well as conducting tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting and language.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that leads to stiffness or slow movement. Symptoms of the diseases, such as slurred speech and experiencing tremors in the hands, can also worsen over time but can be managed with medication.

Although loss of smell is sometimes an early symptom of Covid-19, it could also be caused by other medical conditions and diseases.

‘Get proper diagnosis from experts’

Africa Check asked Sulyman Kuranga, professor of urology at the University of Ilorin in western Nigeria, if men should rely on this method of self-diagnosis.

“Pee attracting ants may be a sign that the urine contains high levels of sugar. But you could have diabetes without sugar showing up in the urine. Gonococcal infection could cause the urethra to be blocked and urine not to to come straight out,” he said.

Kuranga said there are various tests for sodium and cholesterol levels and that “patients should go to the hospital for proper diagnoses”.

Aihanuwa Eregie, professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Benin in southwestern Nigeria, also told Africa Check that there were scientifically proven tests for blood sugar, and that these were “how we diagnose diabetes”.

We asked Njideka Okubadejo, professor of neurology at the University of Lagos, about diagnoses of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

She said: “They are neurodegenerative disorders and diseases of aging but particularly Parkinson’s can affect younger people. These are conditions where, for unclear reasons, nerve cells in certain areas of the brain begin to die off.”

She explained that both conditions should be managed by well-trained neurologists, who can recognize the symptoms of the diseases: “People have to go through clinical diagnosis before the presence of either Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s can be established.”

Experts advise that people who have concerns about their health should see a doctor for proper diagnosis, instead of self-diagnosing or consuming unproven substances.

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