Diabetes is a common health condition that is life-long but easily managed. Around 3.2 million people in the UK are diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and it is suggested that around 630,000 people may have a condition and not even know it. Both type 1 and type 2 occur because the level of glucose in the blood is too high and the body can’t use it properly because of insufficient insulin levels.
Glucose is obtained from eating carbohydrates and fats and is the body’s main source of energy, however glucose levels need to be within a healthy range and should not get too high or too low. Insulin is a peptide hormone that is produced in the pancreas and is central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. It allows glucose to be absorbed from the blood and should be provided consistently from the body to remove excess glucose from the blood and ensure it is put to good use. It is important for blood glucose levels to be perfectly balanced and any excess to be used as fuel for our cells.
When the pancreas is not creating enough or any insulin, it can’t help the glucose enter the body’s cells and our blood glucose levels become too high, resulting in type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes:
This form of diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not producing any insulin at all, meaning that the glucose levels in the blood cannot be controlled. This form is the rarer of the 2 and only accounts for around 10% of all diabetes cases. Although type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it usually appears before the age of 40 and is the most common form of the condition in children, accounting for 90-95% of childhood diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually easy to spot as signs and symptoms are quite obvious and can develop quickly over the period of a few weeks. It is however easily managed with daily insulin infections, a healthy diet and regular physical exercise and symptoms will quickly be alleviated.
Type 2 diabetes:
This form of diabetes develops when the body is producing some insulin, but it’s either not enough or does not work properly (insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes usually appears in individuals over 40, but it is also becoming increasingly common in children, adolescents and young adults. As the most common form of diabetes, it accounts for around 85-95% of all diabetes cases but it is often more difficult to pinpoint. Symptoms are not so obvious as can develop slowly over a number of years, so it is often only picked up during routine medical check-ups. Type 2 diabetes is easily controlled with a healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication or insulin.