What is Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. High blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) result from defects in insulin secretion, its action, or both. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that plays a very important role in our bodies by lowering blood glucose levels.

After we eat, we begin to digest carbohydrates, breaking them down into glucose. When blood glucose levels rise insulin is released from the pancreas to regulate the glucose level. It promotes the uptake of glucose into body cells where it is used as fuel for energy. In patients with diabetes, the absence of insufficient production of insulin or lack of response to insulin causes hyperglycemia.

Diabetes is a chronic life-long health condition that can be controlled. However, if it is left untreated it can cause serious health complications.

There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2, but there are a range of other types of diabetes. They need to be treated and managed properly. With the right treatment diabetes can be managed and should not stop you leading a full and happy life.

The common symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can include the following:

  • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night.
  • Being really thirsty.
  • Feeling more tired than usual.
  • Losing weight without trying to.
  • Being hungry more than usual.
  • Genital itching or thrush.
  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Skin Problems.
  • Yeast infections.
  • Tingling or numbness in the feet or toes.

Although the majority of people with Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in childhood and early adulthood, the symptoms are the same at any age. Adults diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes may not recognise their symptoms as quickly as children, which in turn will prove detrimental as diagnosis then treatment may be delayed.

The 4 Ts campaign (see below) describes the symptoms to recognise in children; however, these will match symptoms in adults and could include a further ‘T’, Thrush. High levels of glucose being passed in the urine are a perfect breeding ground for the fungal infection which cause thrush.