A focus on Diabetes

More than 4.9 million people in the UK have Diabetes.

The majority of people with Diabetes have type 2 Diabetes and a much smaller number have type 1 Diabetes.
But what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Dr Sally Harris, General Practitioner at The Wilmslow Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, explains both types, summarises the early signs of Diabetes that you should watch out for and the testing available. 

What are the early signs of Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when our blood glucose levels become too high, because our body is either resistant to, or not producing enough insulin to facilitate the glucose being moved from the blood into our cells. This can lead to general feelings of tiredness and lethargy. Other common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Urinating a lot more than usual
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Visual impairment and unusual infections and rashes.

Diabetes is divided into either Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.

What is Type 1 Diabetes and how do you get it?

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease which occurs when our own body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells in our pancreas. This reduces the pancreas ability to produce insulin. Type 1 Diabetes is more common in younger people. In addition to other treatments, it requires the regular use of insulin.

What is Type 2 Diabetes and how do you get it?

Type 2 Diabetes accounts for about 90% of all Diabetes cases. It occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of insulin our body needs and the amount that our pancreas can produce. Type 2 Diabetes can usually be managed by changes in lifestyle, including weight loss, dietary changes, a reduction in alcohol consumption and increased exercise.

What is latent autoimmune Diabetes of adults?

Sitting somewhere in between Type 1 and Type 2, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) is usually diagnosed in people between 30 and 50 years old. Whilst the symptoms are the same, they normally occur more slowly than Type 1 and more quickly than Type 2.

What are the risk factors for developing Diabetes?

The main risk factor for Diabetes still remains an abnormal body mass index (BMI) of over 27 (being overweight). Other risk factors include lack of exercise, family history, pancreas related illness and medication prescribed for other illnesses. 

Diabetes may cause other health problems such as kidney failure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke and impotence. As with all risks, these can be treated separately by your GP or specialist consultant.

It’s really important to remember that making positive lifestyle adjustments can dramatically reduce the risk of developing Diabetes.

How do we test for Diabetes?

To test for Diabetes, your doctor will take a blood sample to check your glucose level on the day, and a HBA1C test which provides a record of what your blood sugar has been like over preceding 6 weeks. 

If you, or one of your family members is displaying symptoms of Diabetes, please consult your doctor.

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