What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body loses its ability to use sugar.
Diabetes can affect anyone, at any age and arises when a gland in the body called the pancreas, which lies just behind the stomach, is unable to produce any, or produces insufficient amounts of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that carefully controls the amount of glucose in our blood. Insulin helps the glucose we absorb from the food we eat to enter our body’s cells, where it is used as fuel to give us energy.
Types of Diabetes
There are 2 main types of Diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce any Insulin. This type of Diabetes usually appears before the age of 40.
Type 2 Diabetes develops when the body does not produce enough Insulin, or the supplies that it makes are not as effective (Insulin resistance). This is the most common type of diabetes, and it usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian and African-Caribbean people it often appears after the age of 25. There have been some reported cases of children developing Type 2 Diabetes, and this seems to be increasing.
Risk factors for Diabetes
Some people may be at higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, depending on whether they have any of the risk factors associated with Diabetes. These are:
- Are aged 40 or over
- Are overweight or obese
- Do very little exercise
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Are of Asian, African or Caribbean Origin
- Have had diabetes during pregnancy
Signs and symptoms of Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes usually develops gradually, and people often have very few or no symptoms.
The main symptoms of diabetes are:
- Extreme tiredness
- Increased thirst
- Passing a lot of urine (especially at night)
- Weight Loss
- Blurred vision
- Recurring infections e.g. thrush, urine infections etc.
Facts and figures
It is estimated that over 2 million people in the UK have Diabetes, and these numbers are increasing.
Within Nottinghamshire County tPCT there are nearly 24,000 people with Diabetes.
There could be up to 1 million people in the UK who have Diabetes but don’t yet know it.
Type 2 Diabetes is not a mild condition. It can be very serious, especially if not treated effectively.
There are a number of possible complications of Diabetes, especially if the condition is not treated effectively. These include heart problems, eye problems, kidney problems, and nerve problems.
What to do if you think you have Diabetes
People who have some of the risk factors or show some of the signs and symptoms for Diabetes may not necessarily have the condition.
However it is important to go for an appointment with your GP for a check-up.
If it is Diabetes, then the quicker it’s diagnosed the better so that effective treatment can be started.
Where to get more information
In the first instance, if you suspect you have diabetes, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor. If diabetes is confirmed you will be started on appropriate treatment, and offered a range of information and opportunities to help you understand more about living with diabetes
These may include:
- An opportunity to attend Diabetes education sessions
- Support to make lifestyle changes if needed, e.g. weight loss, stopping smoking
- Access to more resources, e.g. Diabetes UK
- Expert Patient programmes