To keep well and healthy, everyone with diabetes needs good
and regular healthcare. The early detection, treatment and
continued control of your diabetes is very important as this
will reduce your chances of developing the serious health
problems (complications) linked to diabetes, such as heart
disease, kidney disease and blindness.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose
(sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use
it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of starchy foods
such as bread, rice, potatoes, chapatis, yams and plantain,
from sugar and other sweet foods, and from the liver which
Insulin is vital for life. It is a hormone produced by the
pancreas, that helps the glucose to enter the cells where
it is used as fuel by the body. The main symptoms of untreated
diabetes are increased thirst, going to the loo all the time
– especially at night, extreme tiredness, weight loss,
genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, and blurred
Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes develops if the body
is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes usually
appears before the age of 40. It is treated by insulin injections
and diet, and regular exercise is recommended.
Type 2 (non insulin dependent) diabetes develops when the
body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when
the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known
as insulin resistance). This type of diabetes usually appears
in people over the age of 40, though often appears before
the age of 40 in South Asian and African-Caribbean people.
It is treated by diet and exercise alone or by diet, exercise
and tablets or by diet, exercise and insulin injections.
The main aim of treatment of both types of diabetes is to
achieve blood glucose and blood pressure levels as near to
normal as possible. This, together with a healthy lifestyle,
will help to improve wellbeing and protect against long-term
damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.
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