Diabetes mellitus is a common condition in which the
amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body
is unable to use it properly. This is because the body's method of
converting glucose into energy is not working as it should.
Normally, a hormone called insulin carefully controls the amount of
glucose in our blood. Insulin is made by a gland called the pancreas,
which lies just behind the stomach. It helps the glucose to enter
the cells where it is used as fuel by the body. We obtain glucose
from the food that we eat, either from sweet foods or from the digestion
of starchy foods such as bread or potatoes. The liver can also make
After a meal, the blood glucose level rises and insulin is released
into the blood. When the blood glucose level falls - for example,
during physical activity - the level of insulin falls. Insulin, therefore,
plays a vital role in regulating the level of blood glucose and, in
particular, in stopping the blood glucose from rising too high.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes:
Also known as insulin dependent
Type 2 diabetes:
Also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops when there is no insulin in the body because
the cells in the pancreas that produce it have been destroyed. This
type of diabetes usually
appears in people under the age of 40, often in childhood. It is treated by
insulin injections and diet.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still produce some insulin, though
not enough for its needs, or when the insulin that the body produces does not
work properly. This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age
of 40. It is treated by diet and exercise alone, or by a combination of diet
tablets, or in some instances by a combination of diet and insulin injections.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
main symptoms of diabetes are:
||Frequent visits to the toilet
(especially at night)
||Genital itching or regular bouts
Type 2 diabetes develops
slowly and the symptoms are usually less pronounced. Some people may
not notice any symptoms
at all and their diabetes is only picked up in a routine medical
check up. Some people may put the symptoms down to 'getting older'
Type 1 diabetes develops much more
quickly, usually over a few weeks, and symptoms are normally very
obvious. In both types of diabetes,
the symptoms are quickly relieved once the diabetes is treated.
Early treatment will also reduce the chances of developing serious
Who gets diabetes and what causes it?
Diabetes is a common health condition. About 1.4 million people in
the UK are known to have diabetes – that’s about three
in every 100 people. And there are an estimated one million people
in the UK who have diabetes but don't know it. Over three-quarters
of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Although the condition
can occur at any age, it is less common in infants and becomes more
common as people get older.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin producing cells in the pancreas
have been destroyed. Nobody knows for sure why these cells have been
damaged but the most likely cause is an abnormal reaction of the body
to the cells. This may be triggered by a viral or other infection.
This type of diabetes generally affects younger people. Both sexes
are affected equally.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes used to be called 'maturity onset' diabetes because
it usually appears in middle-aged or elderly people, although it
does occasionally appear in younger people. The main causes are
body no longer responds normally to its own insulin, and/or that
the body does not produce enough insulin.
People who are overweight are particularly likely to develop Type
2 diabetes. It tends to run in families and is more common in
Asian and African-Caribbean communities. Some people wrongly describe
Type 2 diabetes as 'mild' diabetes. There is no such thing as
All diabetes should be taken seriously and treated properly.
Other causes of diabetes
There are some other causes of diabetes, including certain diseases
of the pancreas, but they are all quite rare. Sometimes an accident
or an illness may reveal diabetes if it is already there, but they
do not cause it.
How diabetes is treated?
Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be treated very successfully.
Knowing why people with diabetes develop high blood glucose levels
will help you to understand how some of the treatments work.
When sugar and starchy foods have been digested, they turn into
glucose. If somebody has diabetes, the glucose in their body is
into energy, either because there is not enough insulin in their
body, or because the insulin that the body produces is not working
This causes the liver to make more glucose than usual but the
body still cannot turn the glucose into energy. The body then
its stores of fat and protein to try to release more glucose but
still this glucose cannot be turned into energy. This is why people
untreated diabetes often feel tired and lose
weight. The unused glucose passes into the urine, which is why
people with untreated diabetes pass large amounts of urine and
Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes
People with Type 1 diabetes need injections of insulin for the
rest of their lives and also need to eat a healthy diet that
the right balance of foods. Insulin cannot be taken by mouth
is destroyed by the digestive juices in the stomach. People
with this type of diabetes commonly take either two or four injections
If you or someone close to you needs insulin injections, your
doctor or diabetes nurse will talk to you, show you how to do
give you support and help. They will also show you how you can
do a simple
blood or urine test at home to measure your glucose levels.
This will enable you to adjust your insulin and diet according
routine. Your doctor or diabetes nurse will advise you what
to do if your glucose level is too low.
If you have Type 1 diabetes,
your insulin injections are vital to keep you alive and you must
have them every day.
Treatments for Type 2 diabetes
People with Type 2 diabetes need to eat a healthy diet that contains
the right balance of foods. If your doctor or diabetes nurse finds
that this alone is not enough to keep your blood glucose levels
normal, you may also need to take tablets.
Reducing the risk of serious health problems
People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing certain
serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood
circulation problems, nerve damage, and damage to the kidneys and
eyes. The risk is particularly high for people with diabetes who
are also very overweight, who smoke or who are not physically active.
You will greatly reduce your risk of developing any of these complications
by controlling your blood glucose and blood pressure levels, and
by eating healthily and doing regular physical activity.
Regular medical check-ups
In the last 10 to 20 years, the care for people with diabetes has
improved dramatically. One of the most important developments
has been improved methods of screening which will help your doctor
pick up any health problems at an early stage so they can be treated
more successfully. This is why having regular medical check-ups,
at least annually, is so important. Maintaining a sensible weight
a variable that can help reduce your chances of developing diabetes.
Check whether you have a healthy weight on our BMI
For further Information on diabetes contact Diabetes UK on : Tel
020 7323 1531