Diabetes – What is diabetes and how do I know if I have it?
Diabetes is a long term condition in which a person’s blood sugar levels are too high. There are 2 different types of diabetes:
1. Type 1 diabetes – This is where the body attacks the cells that make insulin, resulting in not enough insulin being produced. Only about 10% of diabetics have type 1 diabetes and it most often develops in early adulthood.
2. Type 2 diabetes – the majority of cases (~90%) of diabetes are of type 2 diabetes. In this instance the body does not produce enough insulin and/or the body’s cells do not respond to insulin. People who are overweight or obese are at the greatest risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes can often go undiagnosed for long periods of time because the symptoms are often very general and easy to ignore, however if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor. The most common symptoms include:
- Extreme thirst
- More frequent urination than usual, particularly at night
- Weight loss and loss of muscle mass
- Feeling tired
- Blurred vision
- Sexual dysfunction among men
- Treatment and lifestyle
If you are living with diabetes it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a healthy diet, in order to prevent the development of further complications as a result of your diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes will need to take regular insulin injections for the rest of their life, while those with type 2 diabetes may also have to take medications as their disease progresses.
Failure to keep your blood sugar levels under control may result in the development of long-term complications for your heart, eyes, nerves, kidneys, skin and feet. In the worst cases, diabetic patients may develop cardiovascular disease, become blind or require limb amputation, amongst other problems.