Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious health complications.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions, caused by different things, but they are both serious and need to be treated and managed properly
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that plays a very important role in our bodies. After we eat, we begin to digest carbohydrates, breaking them down into glucose.
The insulin released by the pancreas moves glucose into our cells, where it is used as fuel for energy. It may help to understand that insulin is often described as a key, which open the doors to the cells, allowing glucose to enter.
How does diabetes affect the body?
When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar which is the main source of energy for our bodies. Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short term health complications.
For our bodies to work properly we need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy. In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body. When people with diabetes eat glucose, which is in foods such as breads, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yoghurt and sweets, it can’t be converted into energy.
Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. After eating, the glucose is carried around your body in your blood. Your blood glucose level is called glycaemia. Blood glucose levels can be monitored and managed through self care and treatment.
Three things you need to know about diabetes:
It is not one condition- there are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes
All types of diabetes are complex and require daily care and management
Diabetes does not discriminate, anyone can develop diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, symptoms are often sudden and can be life-threatening; therefore it is usually diagnosed quite quickly. In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs can go unnoticed being seen as part of ‘getting older’.
Therefore, by the time symptoms are noticed, complications of diabetes may already be present.
Common symptoms include:
- Being more thirsty than usual
- Passing more urine
- Feeling tired and lethargic
- Always feeling hungry
- Having cuts that heal slowly
- Itching, skin infections
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
- Gradually putting on weight (type 2)
- Mood swings
- Feeling dizzy
- Leg cramps
This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice or used to alter medical therapy. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs