Diabetes, whilst always in existence, is becoming an exponentially dangerous chronic disease. The number of individuals with Type 2 Diabetes is booming with western diets and the western obesity epidemic. There are currently 415 million adults worldwide with Diabetes. This is thought to rise to 642 million adults by 2040. Diabetes is lifelong and, by its very nature, chronic.
Diabetes is a condition, with slightly different causes, that causes a person’s blood glucose levels to become too high. This is harmful for the overall functioning of the body.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational.
Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas (the organ that produces insulin) does not produce any insulin at all. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, most commonly under 40, and most notably in children. In young people Type 1 diabetes can develop rapidly, over a period of days. In older people, the development of the disease tends to be slower. Type 1 diabetes is considered to be an auto-immune disease whereby the individual’s own immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas.
Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is as a result of the pancreas not producing enough insulin. It can also occur when the body’s own cells no longer react appropriately to insulin. This means that the glucose stays in the blood, causing potentially serious problems. Type 2 diabetes is largely considered to be as a result of lifestyle factors, and is more common with age and obesity.
Gestational Diabetes: Gestational Diabetes is a specific type of diabetes that affects pregnant women. Gestational Diabetes occurs because there is too much glucose in the blood. It usually develops in the last trimester of pregnancy and disappears when the baby is born. However, having gestational diabetes does increase a woman’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Notably, gestational diabetes can often be symptomless and so is usually picked up via blood test.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes usually do present with common symptoms. These symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, excessive and prolonged tiredness, and sometimes weight loss and loss of muscle bulk.
Type 2 Diabetes is the form that is, often, preventable and there are certain risk factors associated with the chances of developing the condition.
Obesity: Obesity is one of the highest risk factors for diabetes. Individuals with a BMI over 30, and in particular, individuals who have a high amount of fat stored around the abdomen, are more at risk of developing diabetes.
Age: the risk of developing diabetes increase with age, most notably in the over 40’s (or over 25 for those of South Asian ethnicity).
Diet: Closely linked to obesity, but those with a high fat, high sugar, diet are more at risk of developing diabetes.
Smoking: Smoking increases the chances of developing diabetes.
Alcohol: Alcohol consumption, particularly to excess, can increase an individual’s propensity to develop diabetes.
Exercise: Exercising regularly is known to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Genetics: If you have a close relative with diabetes then you are more likely to develop the condition yourself.
Ethnicity: Certain ethnic backgrounds are more likely to develop diabetes. Those with South Asian, Chinese, Afro-Caribbean, or black descent are more likely to develop the condition.
Untreated diabetes can cause a range of problems including: damage to the blood vessels; damage to the nerves; damage to the organs; diabetic retinopathy (an eye condition with risk of blindness); lower limb amputation; kidney failure; and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
The management of diabetes is essential to live a healthy life following diagnosis of the condition. The aim of all treatment is to keep the blood glucose levels as regulated as possible, as well as controlling the diabetic symptoms. It is paramount to reduce the risks of developing complications.
For Type 1 diabetics it will be necessary for regular insulin injections, and this may occur for some Type 2 diabetics too. Diabetics need to learn how to correspond the amount and type of insulin they inject with the types and amount of food they eat, and the exercise they do.
A primary form of diabetic management is self-care. It is important for those with diabetes to ensure they have a healthy balanced diet, with limited sugar intake, and a wealth of low GI (Glycaemic Index) foods that release sugar in to the blood stream more gradually.
Alongside this it is helpful for managing diabetes to take regular exercise. Stopping smoking will lower your increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Individuals with diabetes should limit their alcohol consumption as diabetes can cause hypo or hyper glycaemia.
Annually, diabetics should have a blood test to ascertain the current status of their diabetes. Additionally it is of particularly importance to take care of a diabetic’s feet as diabetes can pose complications that ultimately may result in a need for limb amputation.
With careful management it is possible to lead a full and healthy life despite the chronic condition of diabetes.
At WizeLife we believe in bringing health information, tailored specifically to you, to your inbox via a simple, easy, online assessment. Compiled by medical experts using a plethora of the most up to date medical studies, we can assess your risk factors for chronic diseases such as Diabetes. However, knowledge is power, and so we go beyond this. We actively give you information and advice based on your known health risks compared to a perfectly healthy virtual patient, and advise you on what you can do to target elevated risks and reduce them in line with an ideal health basis, making you healthier and less at-risk. For tips on managing and reducing the risks associated with Diabetes, take our 7-minute test now.