Diabetes can affect anyone, with over 3.8 million people in the UK living with diabetes. Estimates show by 2030 the predicted number of people with diabetes will rise to 5.5 million.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that often occurs when your Blood Glucose (BG) levels and insulin are mismanaged by your body. Glucose presence in the blood is the main source of energy for your body and regularly comes from foods you eat, more specifically foods with either sugars or carbohydrates. Insulin which is a hormone produced by the pancreas regulates BG levels by helping it transition from blood to cells all around your body. In some cases, your body either does not produce insulin, produces some but not enough or your body finds it hard to use insulin to transfer glucose from your blood. In any of these cases, sugar will remain in your blood and not reach your cells.

Over prolonged periods, maintaining high BG levels can cause severe health problems. Diabetes, unfortunately, has no cure however, steps made in health research have made the management of diabetes increasingly easier for most. If managed correctly diabetics can expect no severe health problems or lowered life expectancy due to diabetes.

In some cases, you may hear people say ‘pre-diabetes’ or ‘borderline diabetes. These terms refer to someone that is not fully diabetic or doesn’t need medical assistance to control their BG levels, some people can eliminate the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Please do note that any form of diabetes is serious, you should consult a medical professional such as your family Doctor for advice on preventative measures.

types of diabetes

The most common types of diabetes found today are Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, Gestational diabetes and some others which are slightly less common such as Maturity-onset Diabetes for the young.

Type 1 diabetes

As a type 1 diabetic, your body is unable to produce the hormone called insulin. In type 1 diabetes the body’s autoimmune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas thus preventing the production of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed at birth or early in life, however, it can make itself present at any age. Anyone with type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections or an insulin pump to maintain BG levels and prevent further health complications or even death.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is slightly different to type 1, in type 2 diabetics the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or does not use the insulin produced very well which can often lead to high BG levels. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age including childhood. However, the most common cases for diagnosis of type 2 are in middle-aged adults and the elderly. With this form of diabetes being able to affect anyone, lower sugar diets are strongly suggested for most to decrease risk. This form of diabetes is the most typical across the globe due to the possibility of it being developed, with the likelihood only increasing at the age of 40 and above, while also not being specifically hereditary.

gestational diabetes

This form of diabetes is uncommon and sometimes develops in women who are pregnant, it is usually diagnosed at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you have developed this type of diabetes it can greatly impact your health and the health of the baby, in some cases where this type of diabetes is mismanaged has led to stillbirth, premature births, hypoglycaemia after birth and breathing problems for both mother and child. You can prevent all of these risks by following treatment methods given to you by your medical team and following their advice on the management of your type of diabetes.

Diabetes in the UK

Diabetes impacts 1 in 10 people over the age of 40, with the most typical diagnosis being type 2 at around 90% of all diagnoses according to recent figures posted by

You can find out more about the prevalence of diabetes in the UK by clicking this text or following the link below.

Likelihood of developing diabetes

The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes directly correlates with the following:

  • If you are 45 or older
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Diagnosed with Prediabetes
  • Have had Gestational Diabetes (Pregnancy diabetes)
  • You are overweight or have a poor diet (too much sugar or fats in your diet)
  • Physically inactive
  • Your racial background
  • Some health issues such as High blood pressure

If you check off all of these or check off non, there are some ways to tell if you have developed or if you are developing diabetes. The most common symptoms are frequent urination (really frequent) and elevated levels of thirst, these 2 symptoms combined are usually a telltale that your BG levels are high and remain high.

These symptoms however are to be taken with a grain of salt as there could be many reasons for frequent urination and thirst. If you do notice such symptoms over a prolonged period you should think about getting a blood test done ASAP to find the cause.

You are a lot more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or if you have had Gestational Diabetes, in which case it is advised you monitor your diet and exercise patterns, meaning don’t overdo the sugar in your foods and lay off juices or drinks with high sugar contents. Also requesting HbA1c tests from your family doctor to check your average BG levels over longer periods.

What health problems can diabetics develop?

Maintaining high blood glucose levels over a long duration can lead to serious and even life-threatening medical issues, such as;

  • Nerve damage (Leading to amputation in some cases)
  • Loss of Sight (Vision issues in general)
  • Dental issues (Abcess tooth, gum disease and other  dental infections)
  • Foot problems (prone to infections, fungi)
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

There are various ways you can prevent your chances of developing such issues by following the advice provided to you by your diabetes team, and getting regular eye tests and dental check-ups.

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[1] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes statistics report, 2017.

By Lee M

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