By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes. Most of these cases will be Type 2 diabetes, because of our ageing population and rapidly rising numbers of overweight and obese people. The figures are alarming and confirm that diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today.
Diabetes Awareness Week began yesterday and runs until Saturday 20th June. It is a chance to raise awareness of the condition and funds for the continuation of medical research into the disease. It is also an opportunity to let diabetes sufferers know they are not alone, and there are plenty of others who are going through exactly the same.
The estimated figures above suggest diabetes is a health condition that is going to affect more of us in the future. Diabetes Awareness Week gives people who have been newly diagnosed and those who have lived with the condition for some time the opportunity to share their stories, tips and advice with others.
What is Diabetes?
3.3 million people have diabetes in the UK. A further 590,000 people are estimated to have the condition without realising it.
Diabetes is a condition where the body is not able to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. This occurs due to the pancreas not being able to produce the right amount of insulin, which allows glucose to enter the body’s cells. Sometimes the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, sometimes not enough, and sometimes doesn’t work in the way it should (insulin resistance).
Our cells use glucose as a vital life energy source. When glucose enters our cells, it gives us the energy we need to go about our daily lives. We attain glucose by eating carbohydrates and from the liver, which produces glucose. Diabetes sufferers are not able to process glucose as fuel, so it ends up remaining in the blood at too high a level.
There are two main types of diabetes. These are:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes affects about 10% of all adults with diabetes and is also the most common form of the condition to effect children. Type 1 is when the pancreas is not producing any insulin at all. It is managed by injected doses of insulin or a pump. Type 1 diabetes sufferers are advised to eat a healthy diet and adopt regular exercise routines.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is when there is not enough insulin, or the insulin isn’t fully entering the cells, so too much glucose builds up in the blood. You are at much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you have an unhealthy diet or sedentary lifestyle, which causes you to be overweight. It is also becoming increasingly common in children. Insulin and other forms of medication are often required.
If you’d like to get involved in Diabetes Awareness Week and share your stories and experiences, join the conversation on the official Facebook and Twitter pages and remember to use the hashtag: #DiabetesAndMe.