November Is Diabetes Awareness Month - Did You Know That There Are In Fact More Than Two Types?
6th November 2016
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Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.  This is because your pancreas doesn't produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter your body's cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
  • Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body's cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives.  It is vital for life.
  • Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver. 
  • If you have diabetes, your body cannot make proper use of this glucose so it builds up in the blood and can't be used as fuel.
  • There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.
Diabetes develops when glucose can't enter the body's cells to be used as fuel.  This happens when either:
  • There is no insulin to unlock the cells (Type 1)
  • There is not enough insulin or the insulin is there but not 
    working properly (Type 2).
Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.  Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 10 per cent of all adults with diabetes and is treated by daily insulin doses – taken either by injections or via an insulin pump.  

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood.  It is the most common type of diabetes found in childhood.  
Insulin is a hormone.  It works as a chemical messenger that helps your body use the glucose in your blood to give you energy.  You can think of it as the key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells. Once the door is unlocked, glucose can enter the cells where it is used as fuel.  In Type 1 diabetes the body is unable to produce any insulin so there is no key to unlock the door, and the glucose builds up in the blood.
  • The body can't use glucose to provide energy and tries to get it from elsewhere and starts to break down stores of fat and protein instead.  This can cause weight loss. Because the body doesn't use the glucose it ends up passing into the urine.
  • Nobody knows for sure why these insulin-producing cells have been destroyed, but the most likely cause is the body having an abnormal reaction to the cells.  This may be triggered by a virus or other infection.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).

Type 2 diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian people, who are at greater risk, it often appears from the age of 25.  It is also increasingly becoming more common in children, adolescents and young people of all ethnicities.  

Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all people with diabetes and is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity.  In addition to this, medication and/or insulin are often required.  In Type 2 diabetes there is not enough insulin (or the insulin isn't working properly), so the cells are only partially unlocked and glucose builds up in the blood.
The common symptoms of diabetes:
  • Going to the toilet a lot.
  • Being really thirsty.
  • Feeling more tired than usual.
  • Losing weight without trying to.
  • Genital itching or thrush.
  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
What happens if you ignore the signs of diabetes?
It's hard to ignore the signs of Type 1 diabetes because symptoms can often appear quite quickly.  But leaving it untreated can lead to serious health problems, including diabetic ketoacidosis, which can result in a potentially fatal coma.
Type 2 diabetes can be easier to miss as it develops more slowly, especially in the early stages when it can be harder to spot the symptoms.  But untreated, diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Being diagnosed early and controlling your blood sugar levels can help prevent these complications.
Please do not ignore the signs and see your GP if you are at all concerned!

About the Author

Sarah E

Member since: 10th July 2012

I'm Sarah and I live just outside Barnstaple near Umberleigh.
I love sport especially rugby, cricket and golf and want to hear your thoughts on the site and add events and blogs on subjects that interest...

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