Diabetes is a growing public health problem. It is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
In 2010, there were approximately 3.1 million people aged 16 or over with diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) in England.
By 2030, this figure is expected to rise to 4.6 million, with 90% of those affected having type 2 diabetes.
The charity Diabetes UK estimates that around 850,000 people in England have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed.
Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.
This is sometimes known as prediabetes. If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes is increased.
It’s very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated, potentially leading to eye problems, circulation problems, difficulties maintaining a healthy weight, and general poor health.
You should therefore visit your GP as soon as possible if you have symptoms, such as feeling thirsty, passing urine more often than usual, and feeling tired all the time.
Symptoms of diabetes
The main symptoms of diabetes are:
- feeling very thirsty
- urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision (caused by the lens of the eye becoming dry)
Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general. Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.
What causes diabetes?
The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas (a gland behind the stomach).
When food is digested and enters your bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it’s broken down to produce energy.
However, if you have diabetes, your body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there’s either not enough insulin to move the glucose, or the insulin produced doesn’t work properly.
More help for people with diabetes in Hounslow
People who want to find out more about diabetes should check the Diabetes UK website and consult their GP.
Here is a short video about the Diabetes UK Hounslow voluntary group that aims to raise awareness about diabetes locally:
Hounslow Diabetes Service information can be found here
Diabetes UK has a website here: www.diabetes.org.uk
NHS Choices has comprehensive information here: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes/Pages/Diabetes.aspx