“Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.6 million. By 2025 it is estimated that over four million people will have diabetes.”
Diabetes is the condition the body develops when the pancreas either fails to produce enough insulin to control the amount of glucose in the blood, or fails to use the insulin properly. There are two main types of Diabetes:
- Type 1 – This usually appears in people under the age of 40, with most cases occurring in adolescents. It is controlled with insulin injections and diet.
- Type 2 – This occurs more often in people over the age of 40, particularly in those who are overweight. (Around 80 per cent are overweight at diagnosis.) It can be controlled by diet alone, or in conjunction with tablets or insulin injections.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are very similar, however the symptoms for Type 2 diabetes take longer to manifest, ie. over a period of months and years. Type 1 diabetics will experience symptoms within weeks of developing the condition. Some of the symptoms are:
- Incontinence in the elderly (Type 2)
- Weight Loss
- Visual Disturbances
- Tingling, pain or numbness in the extremities (Type 2)
- Bed wetting in children (Type 1)
Being overweight means your body is unable to use the insulin it is producing as effectively, thus increasing the likelihood of developing diabetes, developing diabetic complications, or making it more difficult to control. An active lifestyle with plenty of exercise is important in the regulation of blood glucose control. Having good control over your blood glucose means the long term complications associated with diabetes are reduced or even avoided.
Your body shape can be a sign of the likelihood of you developing diabetes. If you are “apple” shaped, meaning you have more fat stored around your middle, the chances of you developing diabetes are increased. Your waist-to-height ratio is important: for women, the waist measurement shouldn’t be more than half (0.5) your height measurement. For men it should be no more than 0.4.
- Women: If your height is 166cm your waist should be no more than 83cm.
- Men: If you are 182cm your waist should be no more than 73cm
To calculate this simply multiply your height by the ratio, ie 166 x 0.5 = 83, or 182 x 0.4 = 73.
Diabetes can run in the family
If you have Type 2 diabetes there is the possibility that your children may develop the condition in later life. This risk can be minimised providing they keep a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly and maintain the correct body-weight for them. If there is a history of diabetes in the family it is important for your children to have regular check-ups with your doctor.
How can Type 2 diabetes be controlled?
It can be controlled by diet alone, or diet with a combination of either tablets or insulin. If you:
- exercise regularly
- maintain a healthy body-weight
- do not smoke
- cut down your alcohol intake
- keep your blood pressure and stress levels under control,
you will be able to control your diabetes and minimise the risk of developing diabetic complications such as:
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Foot ulceration
- Nerve damage, known as Neuropathy, a result of which can seriously affect the feet.
People can have Type 2 diabetes for months, or even years, before it is diagnosed, by which time the body is likely to have developed complications. The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) has found that around 50 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes already show some signs of diabetic complications at diagnosis. So, at the first signs of diabetes, it is vitally important to see your doctor, and assess your health and lifestyle.