What is diabetes and what to look for?

Diabetes has a huge impact on millions of people in the UK but exactly what is it?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that occurs when the body either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot utilise insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels, and when it is not functioning properly, it can lead to high blood sugar levels. there are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes: 

Type 1 

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas producing little to no insulin which is a hormone that helps glucose enter our cells to provides energy. This type of diabetes typically develops in children and young adults and requires insulin injections to manage the blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and accounts for about 5-10% of all diabetes cases. 

Type 2 

Type 2 Diabetes also known as adult-onset diabetes is most common form of diabetes, accounting for around 90-95% of all diabetes cases. This type occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin and doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. This type of diabetes can develop at any age, but is most commonly seen in adults, especially those who overweight or obese, type 2 diabetes can be managed with dietary changes, exercise, oral medications, and sometimes insulin injections. 

Signs and Symptoms 

The symptoms of diabetes can vary depending on the type and the severity. However, most common symptoms across the two types include: frequently urination, increase thirst, unexpected weight Loss, fatigue, blurred vision, and slow healing of wounds. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to complications such as heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and blindness. 

Risk factors 

There are several risk factors associated with diabetes, including 

  • Family history: if an individual ha a close family member (parent or sibling) with diabetes their risk of developing the disease is increased. 
  • Being overweight or obese: being overweight or obese increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, an excess weight can cause insulin resistance. 
  • Lifestyle: lack of physical activity, such as regular exercise, can lead to weight gain and increases as an individual gets older. 
  • Race or ethnicity: individuals of certain ethnicity, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, are at a higher risk if developing diabetes than others. 
  • Gestational diabetes: women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • High blood pressure: high blood pressure: high blood pressure is often associated with diabetes and can increase the risk of developing the disease. 
  • High Cholesterol: high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol, can increase the risk of developing diabetes. 

There are several ways to help prevent diabetes, Including: maintaining a healthy weight: eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help control weight. Choosing healthy foods: eating a diet that is high in fibre, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and low in processed and sugary foods can help keep the blood sugar levels stable. 

Exercising regularly such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling can all help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Reduces stress: chronic stress can increase blood sugar levels and contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through medication or exercising are all aspects that can help reduce the development of diabetes. 

In summary, diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Whilst there is currently no cure for diabetes, there are several treatment options available to help manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the long – term outlook for people with diabetes. If you’re experience symptoms of diabetes or think you may be at risk, talk to your healthcare provider.

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