What is Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
In a healthy person, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. The hormone controls the amount of glucose present in the blood.
But, it becomes a lifelong medical condition when the system fails. If that happens, the blood sugar (glucose) level can become too high.
Current statistics show at least 4 million people are living with diabetes in the UK. Further research suggests that it affects a higher proportion of men than women.
Recognising the early signs and symptoms of diabetes can help to reduce further risk. That is why it is important to be aware of the most common symptoms as part of diabetes prevention.
Doctors use the Latin name of diabetes mellitus (DM) as the definition for the long term health condition. But in simple terms, there are two main forms of the disease, type 1 and type 2.
Diabetes Type 1
It only accounts for about 10% of all diagnoses, but you cannot prevent type 1 diabetes. In most cases, it affects children and young adults.
The disease develops when the insulin-producing cells get destroyed. In fact, it means the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin at all.
Diabetes Type 2
This is the most common form of the condition and accounts for around 90% of all cases. But, there are several methods of prevention for diabetes type 2.
When it develops, the pancreas can still produce some insulin. But the amount of the hormone will not be enough to control blood sugar levels. In some cases, ‘insulin resistance’ can also occur. This condition means there is a failure in the way the body reacts to the limited supply of insulin.
Diabetes type 2 is a lifelong condition and it will affect the way you live your daily life in some way. As a rule, you will need to take medication as a part of taking control. In most cases, you will need to change your diet and get regular check-ups from your GP.
Note: Having a family history of the disease is an underlying factor that causes diabetes type 2. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help to prevent further complications.
There is no single prevention of diabetes that works for every case. But, if you are wondering what can you do to help prevent diabetes, here are some answers.
Being inactive, overweight or obese are among the biggest forerunners to the illness. Improving your fitness level and losing weight are two key steps to preventing type 2 diabetes. Even small steps in the right direction can help to delay the onset of the disorder.
Start off by making healthier food choices. Get physical exercise and be active for at least 30 minutes a day. Try to complete a moderate work out at least five days per week.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Some women may have a history of gestational diabetes during a pregnancy. If so, staying fit and maintaining a healthy body weight is particularly important. It is wise for women to pay special attention to their diet and their exercise regime after a pregnancy.
Note: Being obese, or thin and skinny, is a contributor to the illness – but not the only factor.
In fact, there may be very few symptoms at all with type 2 diabetes. This can make it difficult to know for certain whether you have the sickness. You may not realise you have it because most diabetes symptoms do not always make you feel unwell.
But, there are many common warning signs and things to look out for. Some early signs of the disease as well as the typical symptoms of diabetes include:
- Blurred vision and headaches
- Extreme tiredness with irritability (fatigue)
- Frequent need to urinate (bedwetting with children)
- Frequent occurrences of thrush
- Increased thirst or intense hunger
- Itching around the genitals
- Sexual dysfunction among men
- Slow-healing infections (e.g. gum disease)
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Note: As with most diseases and health conditions, early diagnosis is very important. Always consult with your GP or a pharmacist if you think you could have diabetes.
Treatment for Diabetes
As a rule, you will need to take medication to control type 2 diabetes. Taking medicine will help to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. But, you will need it for the rest of your life.
In most cases, the condition worsens over time. So, it is not uncommon to change the treatments or the dosage. Being active, and adjusting your diet, goes a long way to keeping your blood sugar level down.
Drinking Alcohol and Diabetes
One common question pops up a lot from diabetics. They ask; can drinking lead to diabetes? As a rule of thumb, there is no specific need for people with diabetes to give up alcohol – per se.
Even so, drinking alcohol will have an effect on your blood sugar levels. Thus, you should take some precautions if you want to enjoy a drink.
Note: In general, the guidelines on diabetes and alcohol are the same as those for the general population.
Effects of Diabetes
Hyperglycemia is a condition that can result in raised blood sugar content. This complaint is a common effect of having uncontrolled diabetes.
If left untreated, hyperglycemia can result in serious damage to some body systems. The nerves and the blood vessels are most prone in cases of severe diabetes.
Diabetics should never underestimate the effects of diabetes and the risk of further complications. Left untreated, an advanced stage of diabetes can cause:
- Foot problems (sores and infections which can lead to amputation)
- Heart disease
- Kidney damage
- Miscarriage and stillbirth
- Vision problems (which can lead to blindness)
Note: People who suffer diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Get regular check-ups to monitor high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.