What you need to know about World Diabetes Day - Health at Hand
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diabetes

What you need to know about World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day 2018 takes place on the 14th of November. Diabetes is a common disease and the number of people living with diabetes is growing.  As so many of us know someone old or young affected by diabetes we thought we’d give you all you need to know about the disease this World Diabetes Day.

Did you know? It is expected that by 2030, 522 million people with have diabetes, and currently 1 in 2 people that have diabetes remain undiagnosed? 

 

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to process the glucose (sugar) in the blood.

There are 2 types of diabetes… 

 

Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether. This is due to the body producing antibodies which attack the cells of the pancreas. This usually happens in young people and these people need treatment with insulin throughout their lives to control the levels of glucose in their blood.
Type 2 diabetes usually happens in later life. It happens when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin that is produced and the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas is reduced.
Type 2 diabetes is most often the result of a poor diet, lack of exercise and being overweight though some families can be more prone to type 2 diabetes.

 

So how does having high levels of sugar in our blood cause problems?

 

Our blood sugar levels are tightly controlled by the insulin the pancreas produces. Both high and low blood sugar levels can cause problems. High levels of sugar in the blood over a long period of time in diabetes can cause damage to the kidneys, eyes, heart and nerves which can lead to high blood pressure, reduced vision and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes and reduced feeling in the hands and feet.  Patients with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly to make sure the sugar levels are as close to normal as possible. They can do this by using a small needle to draw a drop of blood from the finger and place it on a strip which they insert into a device. The device gives a blood sugar reading. Type 1 diabetics can alter the dose of insulin they take in order to keep their blood sugar at the right level. In type 2 diabetes diet can be made more strict or medication can be altered in order to keep the sugar level under control. People with diabetes are also regularly monitored to check their eyes and feet and kidneys for signs of damage and also to check their blood pressure and cholesterol.

How is diabetes treated?

 

If you have type 1 diabetes you will need to be treated with insulin for the rest of your life. In type 2 diabetes treatment is different. In early cases of type 2 diabetes a change of lifestyle, reducing sugar in-take, exercising more and losing weight can improve insulin resistance and allow the body to control its blood sugar without any treatment at all. If the type 2 diabetes cannot be controlled like this medication can reduce the amount of sugar absorbed in the gut and help the body to respond by producing more insulin or by increasing the response to insulin. If type 2 diabetes is too advanced then insulin may be required to keep the blood sugar controlled.

What can I do to reduce the risk of acquiring diabetes?

 

Diabetes is a disease we should all be aware of. The majority of people can reduce the chance of acquiring diabetes by making sure we try to eat a healthy diet and reduce the amount of sugar we eat. Exercise is also important. It is recommended by NICE that adults do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Examples of moderate intensity exercise include brisk walking, cycling with medium effort, cleaning in the house or playing tennis doubles.

The most common signs of diabetes are: ⠀

  • feeling very thirsty
  • urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • blurred vision⠀⠀

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms we recommend talking to your GP. Our doctors are available for video consultation via our app. Download and sign up today.