DIABETES is a lifelong condition that causes blood sugar levels to be too high. Usually someone’s blood sugar level is regulated by the pancreas, which releases a hormone called insulin to allow the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies.
But for those with diabetes, this system does not work, causing sugars to build up in the blood.
Diabetes comes with a clear set of symptoms but often still goes undiagnosed.
The main symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger and fatigue. Both main forms of diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, nerve damage, vision loss, lower-extremity amputations and kidney problems.
In people who suffer from Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that normally produce insulin. Type 1 often runs in families.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common and accounts for around 90 per cent of all adult sufferers in the UK. It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not respond to insulin. It can be caused by lifestyle factors such as obesity and a highfat diet, as well as genetic factors. There is currently no cure for diabetes.
Type 1 is treated with insulin injections or pump therapy to provide the insulin the body is failing to produce.
Type 2 can be managed by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, or through the use of medications or insulin therapy.
In November 2017, there were 3.1 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK.