In many parts of the world, the beginning of November marks the start of a month-long series of activities aimed at raising diabetes awareness and calling for urgent action to tackle the diabetes epidemic. On December 20, 2006, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution to designate November 14 as World Diabetes Day. The occasion aimed to raise awareness of diabetes, its prevention and complications and the care that people with the condition need.
What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source.
What is type 1 diabetes? Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas. No, or very little, insulin is released into the body. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About five to 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes generally develops in childhood or adolescence, but can develop in adulthood.
Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Meal planning also helps with keeping blood sugar at the right levels.
Type 1 diabetes also includes latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), the term used to describe the small number of people with apparent type 2 diabetes who appear to have immune-mediated loss of pancreatic beta cells.
What is type 2 diabetes? Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t properly use the insulin that is released (called insulin insensitivity) or does not make enough insulin. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes more often develops in adults, but children can be affected.
Depending on the severity of type 2 diabetes, it may be managed through physical activity and meal planning, or may also require medications and/or insulin to control blood sugar more effectively.
There are many signs and symptoms that can indicate diabetes
Signs and symptoms can include the following:
Weight change (gain or loss)
Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
Frequent or recurring infections
Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your health-care provider right away. Even if you don’t have symptoms, if you are 40 or older, you should still get checked.
It is important to recognize, however, that many people who have diabetes may display no symptoms.