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Diabetes

 

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 makes glucose.

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 vision.

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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