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Diabetes - What is it?

Diabetes mellitus is common condition which affects about 1.4 million people in the UK – that’s about 3 in every 100 people. There are about 12,000 people with diabetes in Wolverhampton.

Who does it affect?

Diabetes can affect anyone.

There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2, but 8 out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but mainly arises in children and younger adults.

The risk of Type 2 diabetes increases with age, usually developing over the age of 30 but it is seen in younger people. People with a family history of diabetes, those who are overweight or have had diabetes in pregnancy have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It is more common in those of Asian or African-Caribbean origin.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Glucose is a sugar and is one of the main sources of energy in the body.

Diabetes happens because the body’s method of converting glucose into energy is not working as it should. When the body is functioning normally a hormone called insulin carefully controls the amount of glucose in our blood. Insulin is produced by a gland called the pancreas which lies just behind the stomach. Insulin helps the glucose to enter the cells where it can be used as fuel by the body.

Normally the body can produce enough insulin to keep the amount of glucose in the blood under control. If there is a lack of insulin because the pancreas gland is not making enough for the body’s needs then the blood glucose level rises.

What are the Symptoms?

The most common symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst and a dry mouth

  • Increased production of urine

  • Unusual Tiredness

  • Infection/itching of the genitals

  • Blurred vision

  • Weight loss

Treating diabetes

Diabetes is a progressive condition and the treatment needed to control it properly will need to be adjusted over time.

Diet, exercise and weight control are very important.

People with Type 1 diabetes always need insulin. People with Type 2 usually start on tablets but many require insulin with time. Your type of diabetes and your full treatment plan should always be discussed with you by your health care team.

Seeking advice and what care to expect

If you think you might have diabetes, don’t just sit and worry about it. Go and see you doctor. A simple blood test will give the answer.

If you find you have diabetes, you can expect to get lots of advice and help, as well as prompt treatment. You should soon be feeling back to good health.