Diabetes is a condition where blood sugar (glucose) is higher than normal. This happens because the body does not produce enough hormone called insulin, which controls blood sugar levels. At present, there are around 2 million UK people with diabetes, with an estimated further 1 million who are unaware they have it.
It’s important to note that there are two forms of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes
also known as ‘insulin dependent diabetes’, it usually presents at an early age. Unfortunately, Type I diabetes cannot be prevented by any actions.
Type 2 Diabetes
typically referred to as ‘non-insulin’ dependent diabetes. There is a very close association of the condition with obesity and lack of exercise. Type II is, therefore, a largely preventable disease.
Diabetes can adversely affect the blood vessels, the eyes, the heart, the nervous system and the kidneys, but this usually appears to follow on from many years of poor blood sugar control. If you are diabetic it is therefore important that then even if you have no symptoms from your diabetes that you regularly visit your GP for advice and monitoring purposes. Since diabetes affects the blood vessels, it is imperative that you avoid damaging them further by smoking – so if you do smoke you should seriously consider the impact that this can have.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of both types of diabetes are:
- increased thirst
- passing water frequently, especially at night
- tiredness and fatigue
- loss of weight
- genital itching or development of minor infections (e.g. thrush or boils)
In type 1 diabetes, less common symptoms are cramps, constipation, blurred vision and recurrent skin infections. In type 2 diabetes, symptoms may go unnoticed for years, and only when complications of diabetes – such as foot ulceration or blurred vision occur – is diabetes diagnosed. Remember that all of the above symptoms may not be present. Therefore to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes it is important to be active, eat a healthy well-balanced diet and regularly have your blood sugar (glucose) levels checked.
For further details visit www.diabetes.org.uk where you will find a wealth of information on the condition.