Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person is blood sugar level to become too high.
There are 2 main types of diabetes:
- type 1 diabetes where the body is immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
- type 2 diabetes where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body is cells do not react to insulin
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1.
Around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.
During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of blood glucose that their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all.
This is known as gestational diabetes.
Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.
This is sometimes known as pre diabetes.
If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full blown diabetes is increased.
It is very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.
When to see a doctor
Visit your doctor as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes,
- feeling very thirsty
- peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.
Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.
Causes of diabetes
The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas (a gland behind the stomach).
When food is digested and enters your bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.
However, if you have diabetes, your body is unable to break down glucose into energy.
This is because there is either not enough insulin to move the glucose, or the insulin produced does not work properly.
There are no lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of type 1 diabetes.