Diabetes is one of the greatest health challenges of our time. Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with the condition in the UK has almost doubled from 1.4 million to 2.6 million. Around 90% of those diagnosed have Type 2 diabetes and it is estimated that up to half a million people have Type 2 diabetes but not even aware of it.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a life-long condition in which the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, which helps the glucose to enter the cells of the body where it is used as fuel. There are two types of diabetes.
Type 1 – diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. It is treated with insulin, diet and regular physical activity.
Type 2 – diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough and surfaces later in life. Around 20% of people with Type 2 diabetes treat their condition with diet and physical activity alone. 50% with addition of tablets, and remaining 30% require tablets and insulin injections.
The main aim of treatment in diabetes is to bring blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat levels as near as normal as possible. This helps to reduce a person's risk of developing diabetes complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, amputation and blindness.
The symptoms of both types are the same – going to the loo frequently, increased thirst, extreme tiredness, blurred vision, regular episodes of thrush and significant weight loss in Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed over a period of weeks as symptoms develop much more quickly and severe. With Type 2 diabetes, the symptoms are not easily to identify and can go unnoticed even for more than ten years which is why they can surface after age 40 plus.
Diabetes awareness is vital amongst people of South Asian origin because they are at increased risk for Type 2 compared to general population in UK. People of all Asian backgrounds can visit their GP and get a blood test done to identify as early as possible levels of blood sugar present. Diabetes UK is the leading charity for three
million people in the UK with diabetes, funding
research. Their mission is to improve lives of people with diabetes and work towards a future without diabetes.
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