10.08.2009 Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of carbohydrate containing food and drinks and is also produced by the liver.
Insulin is a vital hormone produced by the pancreas and helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel for energy.
Diabetes types
There are two main types of diabetes:
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
Type 1
Type 1 diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes usually appears before the age of 40. Type 1 diabetes is the least common of the two main types and accounts for between 5 and 15 per cent of all people with diabetes.
Type 2
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). In most cases this is linked with being overweight. This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40. However, recently, more children are being diagnosed with the condition, some as young as seven. Type 2 diabetes is the most common of the two main types and accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all people with diabetes.
There are currently over 2.5 million people with diabetes in the UK and there are more than half a million people with diabetes who have the condition and don't know it.
Causes and risk factors
Your age
You're at risk of diabetes if you're over 40 or you're over 25 and black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group. The risk also rises with age so the older you get the more at risk you are.
The family
Having diabetes in the family puts you at risk. The closer the relative is, the greater the risk. So if your mum or dad has diabetes, rather than your aunt or uncle, it's more likely you will develop the condition too.
African-Caribbean or South Asian people who live in the UK are at least five times more likely to have diabetes than the white population.
Your weight
Not all people with diabetes are overweight but the stats show that over 80 per cent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight. The more overweight and the more inactive you are the greater your risk.
Your waist
Women - if your waist measures 31.5in (80cm) or more you've got an increased risk.
Men - if you're white or black and your waist is 37in (94cm) or more you have an increased risk of developing diabetes; if you're an Asian man the figure is 35in (90cm) or more.
Pregnant women can develop a temporary type of diabetes - gestational diabetes. Having this - or giving birth to a large baby - can increase the risk of a woman going on to develop diabetes in the future.
Other risk factors
If you've been diagnosed with any problems with your circulation, had a heart attack or stroke, or if you've got a high blood pressure you may be at an increased risk of diabetes.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome who are overweight are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Other conditions such as raised triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and severe mental health problems can also increase your risk.
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