This week is Diabetes Awareness week (11th-17th June) and whether you are directly affected by diabetes or not, this week provides a great opportunity to gain some valuable insight into the disease that is on the increase, understand the ins and outs and find ways of minimising your own personal risk of developing the condition.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects the effectiveness of absorbing glucose thus resulting in a person’s blood sugar level becoming too high.
There are 2 main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 is where the body’s immune system attacks where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
Type 2 is where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common with roughly 90% of adults with the condition having type 2.
What causes diabetes?
We all need a certain amount of glucose (sugar) in our blood as that’s what gives us energy.
Once food enters our body, it begins to get broken down and the glucose is released into the blood.
The pancreas senses the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and releases a hormone called insulin.
This hormone allows the absorption of glucose into our cells but if you have diabetes, this system doesn’t work at all (type 1) or not as effectively (type 2).
If diabetes is untreated or not treated properly, complications can arise as a result of high glucose levels.
Various parts of your body, notably your eyes, heart, feet and kidneys, can suffer serious damage.
Thankfully with the right treatment, people can continue to live a long and healthy life with little risk of any serious damage.
Cutting the risk
As you may have seen across the news, type 2 diabetes is on the increase with the number of people being diagnosed doubling in the last 20 years.
Statistics tell us almost 4 million people in the UK have been diagnosed and a further 12.5 million are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Compared to type 1 diabetes which is currently not preventable, type 2 can be prevented by people opting for healthier lifestyles and being aware of their personal risk of developing the condition.
Some people ignore symptoms or go undiagnosed for up to 10 years!
With roughly 3 in 5 women, 2 in 5 men and 1 in 5 children classified as being obese or overweight – it is clear that obesity is the leading cause of what is largely a preventable disease.
Diabetes is currently the fastest growing health crisis of our time!
The main symptoms as outlined on the NHS website are:
- feeling very thirsty
- urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision
Should you experience any of the above, have yourself checked out by your GP as soon as possible.
It is important to note, whist type 2 diabetes develops over years, type 1 can develop very quickly, over days or weeks in fact.
Don’t play with your health, if in doubt check it out!!
[Sources: NHS, Diabetes UK]