All about diabetes

All about diabetes

Awareness of symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can help keep the family safe and well.

The UK has the fourth highest incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children in Europe and the lowest number of children managing the condition well. In recent years, the number of children being admitted for related emergency hospital care has risen steadily, with, in 2009, over 3,000 being treated for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Diabetes UK, the largest UK charity working on the treatment and care of people with diabetes, believe that many of these emergencies arise because Type 1 diabetes is not diagnosed early enough.

Being aware of symptoms that could signal Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in any member of the family can help get potential sufferers onto a healthier track and avoid what could be a life-threatening emergency. There is no cure, but the condition can often be managed with good personal care.

What is Type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes usually becomes evident in childhood or early adulthood and is a lifelong condition. It occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. It is not medically proven exactly why Type 1 develops but it is believed this may be caused when a virus or infection causes the body to have an abnormal reaction to these cells.

Management of Type 1 diabetes includes eating a healthy diet, taking physical exercise and taking insulin by regular injections every day.

What is Type 2 diabetes?
This form of diabetes usually occurs in older people. However there are a growing number of children and young people being diagnosed. It can be linked to being overweight but other risk factors include having high blood pressure, older age, and for women, having the condition Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or having had gestational diabetes when they were pregnant. Although being overweight is not automatically going to cause the development of Type 2 diabetes, over 80 per cent of those with the condition in the UK are overweight.

Management of Type 2 diabetes will depend on how well the condition is being managed. It is not curable, but some people may find that they can control their condition by making changes to their diet and taking more physical exercise. However, medication may also be required and in some cases insulin injections might be recommended.

If someone in your family has diabetes – especially someone in your immediate family – then there is an increased risk of you developing diabetes.


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Why is diabetes diagnosis important?
Managing diabetes is necessary in order to help the body function properly. The treatment of diabetes focuses on getting the body’s levels of blood glucose and cholesterol as close to normal as they can be. Blood pressure must also be maintained at a healthy level. Along with a healthier lifestyle generally, these can help to reduce the risk of developing other health problems associated with diabetes such as damage to the heart and major arteries, the nerves, kidneys and eyes. Diabetes can affect many unexpected kinds of aspects of health, including your sex life.

Recognising the symptoms of diabetes
Diabetes is a serious condition and although it may be familiar to you through friends who suffer from Type 1 or Type 2, it must be properly diagnosed and monitored. If you suspect that you or a member of your family are showing possible symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice before taking any action yourself.

If you or a member of your family is showing any of the following signs, get these checked out with your GP as soon as possible. And remember that some of these can be symptoms of something much less serious (like a passing urinary infection) so don’t worry, just get them checked out.

• Needing to pass urine more often than usual, especially in the night
• Feeling more thirsty than before
• Feeling exhausted
• Finding that your vision is blurry
• Losing weight unexpectedly
• Getting thrush (or general itchiness around the genitals) regularly
• Finding that cuts or other wounds are not healing well or as quickly as you would expect

Finding out more about diabetes
Whether you are concerned about possible symptoms of diabetes or would like more advice on living with the condition in the family, there is excellent, down to earth advice on the website for Diabetes UK. Also the NHS offers lots of useful support for people who are diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to help them manage the condition within a perfectly normal, daily life.

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My son is is 10 we discovered his diabetes when he was 8 due to the fact he had been drinking non stop all of that day,my husband is also type 1 diabetic so used his blood test machine and found his sugars were very high he was later diagnosed as a type1 diabetic,he is now on an insulin pumpwhich makes his life quality so much better

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I got T1 at 26, now 33. My control isn't great but like everyone I have good days and bad. I have noticed rapid decline in my skin, esp thinning and dry. Now I hardly wear make up due to dry skin or lines across my dace. I know diabetics suffer a lot of dehydration. My hair has also thinned a lot. I feel there is a need for more specific products to tackle diabetics problems in these areas. Anything to help would give us a boost.

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