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World Diabetes Day 2019

by Gemma Melling

World Diabetes Day is 14 November 2019 and this year’s theme is ‘the family and diabetes’.

The aim of the day is to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected, as well as promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are different types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 – where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
  • Type 2 – where the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.
  • Gestational diabetes – a form of diabetes consisting of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.
  • Pre-diabetes / borderline diabetes – blood sugar levels are above the normal range but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Type 2 and pre-diabetes can often be picked up with routine blood tests, such as through a health check. Type 1 diabetes often presents with symptoms.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said “Diabetes is a very common disease with 90% of all adults with diabetes having Type 2. You can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and if you develop it help manage the disorder, through healthy eating, regular exercise and achieving a healthy body weight. It’s very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible as it will get progressively worse if left untreated. If you do have any of the symptoms, speak to your GP.”

What are the symptoms to look out for?

  • feeling very thirsty
  • peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • blurred vision

Causes of diabetes

The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas (a gland behind the stomach).

When food is digested and enters your bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it’s broken down to produce energy.

However, if you have diabetes, your body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there’s either not enough insulin to move the glucose, or the insulin produced does not work properly.

More advice

There are no lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of Type 1 diabetes.

You can help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes through healthy eating, regular exercise and achieving a healthy body weight.

Read about how to reduce your diabetes risk.

Further information about diabetes is available at www.nhs.uk.