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What is Diabetes

What is Diabetes


According to Diabetes UK, over 2.5 Million people in the UK suffer from diabetes, with half a million of them being unaware they have it.There are 2 forms of diabetes, and the causes of both types are different, but both result in too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Last Updated: 27-Aug-2010

 Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of carbohydrate containing food and drinks and is also produced by the liver. Carbohydrate comes from many different sources including starchy or sweet foods such as bread, potatoes, fruit, dairy products, and sweets.
There are 2 main types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body's failure to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas to help control levels of sugar in the blood. It's sometimes called juvenile diabetes or early-onset diabetes because it usually appears before the age of 40.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). In most cases this is linked with being overweight. This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian and African-Caribbean people often appears after the age of 25. However, recently, more children are being diagnosed with the condition, some as young as seven. Type 2 diabetes is the most common of the two main types and accounts for between 85 - 95% of all people with diabetes.

Diabetes can increase the risk of developing other conditions, such as heart disease. It can be managed effectively and many people with diabetes lead a healthy, active life.

Diabetes can also occur in pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes. Some pregnant women have high levels of glucose in their blood because their bodies do not produce enough insulin to meet the extra demands of pregnancy. It affects less than one in 20 pregnant women and usually disappears after birth. Although women with gestational diabetes are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Signs of Diabetes

Some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes are:
• Increased thirst • More frequent urination – especially at night • Wounds that are slow to heal • Extreme tiredness • loosing weight • Blurred vision • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush In Type 1 diabetes the symptoms can be very obvious, and develop quickly, usually over a few weeks.

In Type 2 diabetes the symptoms will not be so obvious and can often be put down to ‘getting on a bit’. It is important to reduce the risk developing health problems by taking early action. So if you are unsure, ask your GP for a diabetes test.

Useful Links

NHS Choices Diabetes UK BBC Health BMJ Patient Leaflet pdf
This information is a quick guide only. always consult your GP for professional advice.