Diabetes is a condition which results in too much sugar in the blood. Also known as Diabetes Mellitus, it occurs because the body does not produce enough of the hormone, insulin, which controls the blood sugar levels.
There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1 affects children and young adults and is often referred to as Insulin Dependant Diabetes (IDDM).
Type 2 comes on in later life, especially in the overweight and often runs in families. This is also referred to as Non Insulin Dependent diabetes (NIDDM).
The symptoms of diabetes are drinking a lot and thirst, passing a lot of urine, weight loss and a tendency to get minor infections e.g. boils or thrush.
If you have any of these symptoms you should consult your doctor so he/she can do a blood test to check whether you are diabetic.
Diabetes can be caused by various factors:
It can be genetic, meaning it is in your family history.
It can be caused by a disorder of the pancreas which is the organ which produces insulin.
It can be drug-induced e.g. by steroids and certain diuretics.
Obesity or remaining overweight is a contributory factor in type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes requires the use of regular insulin injections. This will need to be taught to you but most people manage it themselves after a very short time. You will develop an understanding of the different doses needed when more activity takes place or in situations where you are unable to eat.
Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled by diet alone. It is important to get your weight down to a reasonable level. You will need to take medication if diet alone is not sufficient and this usually involves one or more tablets per day.
Diabetes can affect the blood vessels, the eyes, the heart, the nervous system and the kidneys but this usually follows years of poor blood sugar control.