June 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm
Over a million British people could be living with undiagnosed diabetes – so why don’t we know more about it?
Experts predict that by 2025 over four million people in the UK could have the disease so it’s something many of us should be more aware of. Let’s take a look, then, at the condition behind those alarming figures – just in time for Diabetes Week 2011.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects the balance of blood sugar levels in the body when it cannot produce enough insulin – the hormone that is needed to transform blood sugar into energy.
You may have heard of the daily insulin injections required to help control type 1 diabetes. 10-15% of sufferers have this form of the disease, which is unpreventable and occurs when the body is unable to produce any insulin at all.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for the majority of cases and the rising numbers are linked to obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. Type 2 occurs when the body starts producing less insulin than it needs.
Since there’s no cure for diabetes, the condition must be controlled through medication and healthy lifestyle choices. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood cells, potentially causing a range of serious conditions including (but not restricted to) cardiovascular disease, blindness, nerve damage and kidney damage.
Reducing the Risk
The risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced by maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, a normal weight to height ratio and getting plenty of exercise. Of course, all of these form the basis for general wellbeing , but for helping prevent diabetes, they’re extra important – the link between diabetes and lifestyle is so strong that some cases of type 2 diabetes can be controlled by following a healthy diet and regularly checking blood sugar levels.
It’s also important to be aware of the symptoms of diabetes. Experiencing increased thirstiness and visits to the toilet, weight loss and tiredness may not always seem worthy of a trip to the doctor, but these are signs of diabetes which should be investigated immediately.
Sometimes life can be hectic, and despite best intentions it can sometimes be a challenge to follow healthy living advice. Do you consider diabetes prevention to be part of your health regime? Please let us know in the comments, and if you’ve got any questions on the subject or if you have diabetes and you want to have your say – we’d love to hear from you.