Diabetes: The Important Facts
Diabetes is a medical condition affecting 5.8% of people in England, equating to over 2.5 million people. Diabetes is a result of the pancreas failing to produce enough of the hormone insulin to allow your body to absorb glucose. This can result in your blood’s glucose levels being too high because the stores build up and are not used properly.
The symptoms of diabetes become evident when the glucose in your blood isn’t used properly as fuel for the body. Common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include:
Blurred vision: the most common way in which diabetes affects eyesight is diabetic retinopathy, which occurs as a result of damaged blood vessels in the light-sensitive part of the eye called the retina. The changes in blood glucose levels can cause the blood vessels to swell and leak fluid into the eye. It is a progressive condition and can begin to have a serious effect on vision. As with all the symptoms of diabetes, it will be beneficial to carefully monitor blood-sugar levels. Alternatively, laser treatment has proved effective.
Extreme tiredness: Tiredness or fatigue can occur as a deficiency or high levels of blood sugar. This imbalance can affect the way insulin transports glucose to the cells to provide energy. Changes in diet to fix the imbalance can help to stabilise energy levels.
More frequent/painful passing of urine: Diabetes can increase the likelihood of developing urinary tract infections. This can occur as a result of high sugar levels in urine which can promote bacteria and cause infection. Seeking advice from your GP will help you to know the best way to treat the condition but, as with other symptoms of diabetes, monitoring glucose levels can be beneficial.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the two most common types. Whilst the symptoms of both types are fairly similar, the control measures are different. Particularly with type 1 diabetes, the condition can lead to serious health problems if not monitored carefully.
Type 1 diabetes is more common in people under 30 and commonly occurs during teenage years. It occurs as the result of the body failing to produce any insulin or very little. Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes because the patient will be required to use insulin injections for life. It is also essential to carefully monitor diet and exercise to keep blood sugar levels balanced.
The exact causes of type 1 diabetes are unclear. However, it is thought that the prevalence of viral infections and epidemics such as the bird flu virus contribute to the weakening of the immune system. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system treats pancreatic cells as harmful and destroys or damages them.
As with type 2 diabetes, genetics are thought to be a potential contributing factor. People with a close relative suffering from the condition face a 6% chance of also developing the condition.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce sufficient insulin or the body’s cells are unable to react to it. It is also known as insulin-resistant diabetes. It is more common in people of South Asian, Afro-Caribbean or Middle-Eastern descent. Unlike type 1 diabetes, it does not normally require daily insulin injections. It can sometimes be managed with a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle.
Type 2 diabetes differs from type 1 in the main causes. One of the prime causes of type 2 diabetes is weight, unhealthy lifestyle or obesity. Subsequently, as people tend to gain weight as they age, it is more common in people over the age of 40. People who are heavily overweight are at greater risk because the additional fat around organs puts added pressure on the cardiovascular and metabolic system.
It can also be linked to genetics. People with a close relative suffering from the condition are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
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Victoria shares her knowledge about medical conditions affecting eyesight for cheap glasses retailer, Direct Sight.