November: Diabetes Awareness
You may be hearing the term diabetes more and more as it is becoming a lot more common with the change in our diets and lifestyles. There are many forms of diabetes arising from various reasons, however, the two most common are type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas to be destroyed, preventing the body from being able to produce enough insulin to adequately regulate blood glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes may sometimes be referred to as juvenile diabetes. However, this term is generally regarded as outdated as, whilst it is commonly diagnosed in children, the condition can develop at any age.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body being
a) Ineffective at using the insulin it has produced; also known as insulin resistance and/or
b) Unable to produce enough insulin
Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to metabolise glucose (a simple sugar). This leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time may damage the organs of the body.
The common signs and symptoms of diabetes are:
i. Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night.
ii. Being really thirsty.
iii. Feeling more tired than usual.
iv. Losing weight without trying to.
v. Genital itching or thrush.
vi. Cuts and wounds taking longer to heal.
vii. Blurred vision.
If you have the above symptoms, you must seek medical advice immediately. Your doctor will do a blood test to check the amount of glucose in your blood. They can also check your HbA1c levels. By measuring glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), clinicians are able to get an overall picture of what our average blood sugar levels have been over a period of weeks/months. For people with diabetes this is important as the higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
Risk factors of type 2 diabetes
Obesity is the major type 2 diabetes risk, with millions of people throughout the world facing obesity. Almost a quarter of adults in the UK are recorded as being obese.
Furthermore, the numbers continue to climb, both amongst adults and children.
The number of children being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes caused by obesity is climbing everywhere. In the UK, about one in three children are classed as obese.
- Lack of exercise and sedentary way of life
Living a sedentary lifestyle without sufficient exercise is seriously damaging to health.
Being inactive often leads to being overweight, which can lead to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Eating a 'Western' diet
Eating unhealthily is a major cause of type 2 diabetes, as over 90 per cent of type 2 diabetics are overweight.
A so-called Western diet, with a reliance on processed foods, poor quality fats and little fibre content, is thought to be a major contributor to diabetes and metabolic syndrome.