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Diabetes Definition

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a variety of diseases that involve complications with the hormone known as insulin. In a normal body, the pancreas works by releasing insulin to help us store and use the fat and sugar from the foods we eat. Those with diabetes have a pancreas that produces very little or no insulin. As yet, there is no cure.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: This is an auto-immune disease and there is no known cause for the condition. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body attacks its pancreas with antibodies. It is not caused by diet or lifestyle. Those with type 1 diabetes manage their condition with multiple daily injections or via an insulin pump. It cannot be cured.

Type 2 diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes. This is when the pancreas typically produces small amounts of insulin; however, it isn't enough for the needs of the body, or the cells become resistant to it. This lack of sensitivity to insulin or insulin resistance happens mainly in the cells of the liver, fat, and muscles. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with nutrition, weight management, and exercise and in most cases can be reversed.

What causes diabetes?

There is no known cause for type 1 diabetes. It happens because the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. However, type 2 diabetes has a variety of causes. These include obesity, increasing age, family history of type 2 diabetes, bad diet, and limited exercise. Sometimes type 2 diabetes can occur after a bout of pancreatitis.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are known as the four T's:

  • Toilet: Going to the toilet more frequently
  • Thirsty: Extreme and persistent thirst
  • Tired: Extreme, persistent fatigue
  • Thinner: Looking thinner or losing weight

If you recognise any of these symptoms contact your doctor immediately to avoid diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which could be life-threatening.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often go unrecognised as they develop slowly. Some signs include frequent infections or slow-healing of cuts and sores, extreme fatigue, increased thirst, blurred vision, and areas of darkened skin.

Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

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