What is diabetes
Diabetes is a serious medical condition that occurs when the level of sugar (glucose) in the body

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Diabetes is a serious medical condition that occurs when the level of sugar (glucose) in the body becomes higher than normal for a prolonged period of time.

This can be for two reasons either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.

If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and lower-extremity amputations.

Building up of glucose (or sugar)

When we eat, the sugar and starch in carbohydrates is converted into a form of sugar called glucose for our bodies to use for energy. To help transport glucose from the bloodstream into our cells, a hormone called insulin is produced by the pancreas.

In cases of diabetes, the body either produces too little insulin for the body’s needs or cannot use insulin effectively. In each case, this can cause a dangerous build-up of sugar in the blood.

Diabetes types

There are two main forms of diabetes:

  • type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disease usually seen in young people
  • type 2 diabetes – a form of diabetes strongly linked to obesity that tends to develop in middle-aged adults

Type 2 diabetes is the more common of the two, accounting or roughly 90% of all diabetes cases. As rates of obesity continue to grow across the globe, so does incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Another common type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy and usually disappears soon after giving birth.

Diabetes prevalence / a global problem

Statistics from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that in 2011 some 366 million people across the globe were affected by diabetes, representing around 8.5% of the global population. This figure is projected to rise to 552 million by 2030.

According to the IDF, North America and the Caribbean has 37 million diabetics living there, a figure which is
only rising.

Definition of Diabetes

Diabetes is the term used to describe a metabolic condition of having higher than normal blood sugar levels. There are different reasons why people get high blood glucose levels and so a number of different types of diabetes exist.

Diabetes Overview

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is a serious lifelong condition that typically develops at young age. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys vital cells in the pancreas, which produce the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin.

Find out more about type 1 diabetes here

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a considerably more common form of diabetes that typically middle-aged adults who are also overweight or obese.

People suffering from type 2 are unable to produce enough insulin, or cannot use the insulin in their bodies effectively.

Find out more about type 2 diabetes here

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes, unlike other forms of diabetes, is not a permanent condition but one that develops as a result of pregnancy but subsides after birth.

The risk factors for gestational diabetes are similar to the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, with some additional factors such as if you have given birth to a large baby previously.