Diabetes in the UK
Did you know there are 1.8m sufferers in the UK - 3% of the population?
There are more people in the UK with diabetes than cancer, yet diabetes research receives less than five per cent of the funding that is spent on cancer research!
It's a serious disease that can lead to kidney failure, blindness and limb amputation. Heart attacks are three times more common in people with diabetes.
So-called 'adult' diabetes has reached epidemic proportions and is now beginning to affect teenagers and children. If nothing is done to stop it, one in ten of today's children are likely to get diabetes in their lifetime.
There are two types of diabetes - one of which, Type 1, typically comes on in early life, while Type 2 develops later.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1, is also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes. It can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to the late 30s. With this type, a person's pancreas does not produce insulin.
Type 1 develops when the body's defence (immune) system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
What causes the immune system to do this is not yet fully understood. People with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times a day.
Type 2 diabetes
Also known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes, it typically develops after the age of 40 but can appear earlier. With this type of diabetes, either the pancreas still produces insulin (but not enough) or the body isn't able to use the insulin effectively.
Treatment of Type 2 includes diet control, exercise, self-monitoring of blood glucose and, in some cases, oral insulin.
The symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, fatigue, weight loss and recurrent infections on the skin and mucus membranes.
Complications however can include hardening of the arteries, kidney disease, and gangrene and eye disease. Low blood sugar levels can lead to unconsciousness or comas.
The cause of diabetes still continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.
Visit the Diabetes UK website for further reading.