What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that affects almost four million people in the UK and that figure is expected to rise to five million by 2025. It is a growing problem that should be addressed at the first sign that something may be wrong. There are two types of Diabetes; type 1 and type 2; approximately 90% of those diagnosed within the UK have type 2.

What is diabetes? It is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce (type 1) or respond to (type 2) the hormone insulin, is defective, resulting in an inability to metabolise carbohydrates effectively, and increased levels of glucose in the blood. Simply put, it is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The pancreas produces insulin which lowers the blood glucose level, but if insulin is either not produced, or not used effectively, it causes diabetes. There are lots of signs and symptoms of diabetes but not all sufferers get every one of them, which is why you should always seek advice from a GP if you exhibit any of the main symptoms. The most common are:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination (especially at night)
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss or muscle loss
  • Repeated thrush or genital irritation
  • Delayed healing process with cuts or wounds
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness and/or tingling in hands or feet

What are the risk factors for developing diabetes?

There are no lifestyle changes that lower your risk of developing type 1 diabetes; however, type 2 is often linked to the following; smoking, being overweight, hypertension (high blood pressure), excessive alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle. The consequences can be quite scary and unfortunately it is very common to develop further problems that are secondary to being a diabetic. These often have more of an impact on daily life than the diabetes itself and are also some of the symptoms that people first experience before a diagnosis is confirmed; suffering a stroke, loss of eyesight, delayed healing process and sexual dysfunction.

What can be done? 

To lower your risk it is a case of making a few lifestyle changes to have an impact; eat a healthier diet, take regular exercise, and try to cut down or give up smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. If you develop any of the symptoms above you should consult a doctor.