Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of starchy foods such as bread, rice, and potatoes, from sugar and other sweet foods, and from the liver which makes glucose.
Insulin is vital for life. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas, that helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel by the body. The main symptoms of untreated diabetes are increased thirst, going to the loo all the time – especially at night, extreme tiredness, weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, and blurred vision.
There are two main types of diabetes. These are:
Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin dependent diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, also known as non insulin dependent diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes usually appears before the age of 40. It is treated by insulin injections and diet and regular exercise is recommended.
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). 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.
It is treated by diet and exercise alone or by diet, exercise and tablets or by diet, exercise and insulin injections. .
The main aim of treatment of both types of diabetes is to achieve blood glucose and blood pressure levels as near to normal as possible. This, together with a healthy lifestyle, will help to improve wellbeing and protect against long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.
The main symptoms of diabetes are:
going to the loo all the time – especially at night
genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
Type 1 diabetes develops much more quickly, usually over a few weeks, and symptoms are normally very obvious.
In both types of diabetes, the symptoms are quickly relieved once the diabetes is treated. Early treatment will also reduce the chances of developing serious health problems.
Diabetes is a common health condition. About 1.8 million people in the UK are known to have diabetes that’s about three in every 100 people. And there are an estimated one million people in the UK who have diabetes but don’t know it.
Over three-quarters of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.
Although the condition can occur at any age, it is rare in infants and becomes more common as people get older.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. Nobody knows for sure why these cells have been damaged but the most likely cause is an abnormal reaction of the body to the cells. This may be triggered by a viral or other infection. This type of diabetes generally affects younger people.
Both sexes are affected equally.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes used to be called ‘maturity onset’ diabetes because it usually appears in middle-aged or elderly people, although it does occasionally appear in younger people. The main causes are that the body no longer responds normally to its own insulin, and/or that the body does not produce enough insulin.
People who are overweight are particularly likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. It tends to run in families and is more common in Asian and African-Caribbean communities. Some people wrongly describe Type 2 diabetes as ‘mild’ diabetes.
There is no such thing as mild diabetes. All diabetes should be taken seriously and treated properly.
Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be treated very successfully. Knowing why people with diabetes develop high blood glucose levels will help to you understand how some of the treatments work.
Blood glucose levels
When sugar and starchy foods have been digested, they turn into glucose. If somebody has diabetes, the glucose in their body is not turned into energy, either because there is not enough insulin in their body, or because the insulin that the body produces is not working properly.
This causes .