Special Features
November 14, 2014
What is diabetes?

Fri Nov 14, 2014

Diabetes is a chronic, non-communicable disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose backs up in the bloodstream — causing blood glucose/sugar levels to rise too high.{{more}}

There are two major types of diabetes:

In type 1 diabetes, the body completely stops producing insulin, which is a hormone that enables the body to use glucose for energy. People with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections to survive. This form of diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, but can occur at any age.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly (insulin resistance). This form of diabetes usually occurs in people who are over 40, overweight, and have a family history of diabetes. However, today it is increasingly occurring in younger people, particularly adolescents.

Signs and symptoms include: being very thirsty, frequent urination, weight loss, increased hunger, blurry vision, irritability, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, frequent skin/bladder/gum infections, wounds that don’t heal and extreme unexplained fatigue.

Diabetes can occur in anyone. However, people who have close relatives with the disease are more likely to develop it. Other risk factors include obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. The risk of developing diabetes also increases as people grow older.

Diabetes is more common among Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders. Also, people who develop diabetes while pregnant (a condition called gestational diabetes) are more likely to develop full-blown diabetes later in life.

People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems, including:

* serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth

* higher risk of developing infections

* blindness

* lower limb amputation

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented; however, there is a lot of evidence that shows that lifestyle changes (such as weight loss, moderate exercise, a balanced diet, cutting back on alcohol consumption, quitting smoking etc) can help to prevent Type 2 diabetes.