Many may not realise but the 14th of November is World Diabetes Day. In today’s society, diabetes awareness easily slips under the radar. Although treatable, diabetes is a serious lifelong condition, with numerous health risks involved. The 14th of November is a significant date – it marks the date that insulin was first discovered in 1922 by Frederick Banting and Charles Best. More than 3 million people in the UK now suffer from diabetes, and so this day is globally celebrated in order to raise importance awareness for diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition which occurs when you have too much glucose in the blood. In a non-diabetic, a hormone called insulin is produced by the pancreas, which moves the glucose from your bloodstream to cells. This is then broken down and transformed into energy. However, in a diabetic, the body suddenly stops producing enough (or any in certain cases) insulin and your body cannot break down the glucose. This can be very dangerous and damage your organs.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Fortunately, the symptoms of diabetes are very apparent, and often develop in a short space of time. The main symptoms of diabetes include extreme thirstiness, urinating more frequently than usual, tiredness and severe weight loss.
How do type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ?
There are two types of diabetes which you can develop. Type 1 is when the body stops producing insulin at all, usually due to the body’s immune system attacking and destroying the cells which produce insulin. Scientists still have not discovered what exactly triggers the cells to be attacked. This type of diabetes can only be treated by injecting insulin into the body. It often develops in early adulthood and sometimes children.
Type 2 is where the body still produces insulin, but not enough. This means that sometimes the body doesn’t react to the insulin. Unlike type 1, this type of diabetes does not require daily injections. In some cases it is even possible to control your symptoms through a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise, and careful monitoring of your glucose levels. Type 2 is more common with people who are overweight and older. It will however get worse over time, eventually making it necessary to take medication to control the condition.
Can people still lead normal lifestyle when diabetic?
It is extremely important for a diabetic to inject the insulin they need and keep glucose levels under control. Although this can at first it can appear a daunting way to live, it simply becomes routine and a way of life; like brushing your teeth. People with diabetes become used to their own blood sugar levels and aware of what affects them. It doesn’t necessarily have to impact on enjoying the things we all love in life, but people with diabetes just have to make sure that they eat sugary things like cake and biscuits in moderation, monitor their blood sugars and exercise regularly.
Can we cure diabetes?
Currently, there is no known cure for diabetes. Although diabetes is treatable, there are complications which can arise, including high risk of a stroke and blindness. This is why it is so important that we are made aware of diabetes and how we can help. Stem cell research is currently underway to look into the possibility of growing an artificial pancreas. But research is incredibly expensive, so it is down to us to donate money to Diabetes UK. Hopefully in the future, with enough awareness and funding, we can cure or even prevent diabetes!