By Alisa-Jayne Butler

What is diabetes?


Diabetes is a long-term condition where blood glucose levels (sugar levels) become too high because the body either produces little or no insulin, or cannot use insulin properly.

What are the different types of diabetes?

There are a few different types of diabetes and these are:

Type 1 diabetes: Considered an autoimmune disease, as the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin, and usually develops before the age of 40. It is less common than type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes: Is where the body does not produce enough insulin, of the body’s cells do not react to insulin. It is often associated with obesity and is more common in older people.

About 10% of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes, and close to 90% have type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes: During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of blood glucose their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all. 1 in 20 pregnancies are affected by diabetes (44,000 women between 2005 and 2007).

It is important to take certain steps to help manage your diabetes and lower your risk of further health problems as both type 1 and type 2 diabetes put you at increased risk of physical problems or conditions such as:

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Nerve damage

  • Foot ulcers

  • Kidney damage

  • Muscle-wasting

  • Damage to ligaments and joints

What can be done to reduce the risks that come with diabetes?

On the bright side, there is quite a lot that can be done to minimise your risk for these other health problems and they include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in fat, salt and sugar

  • Don’t smoke

  • Get active for 30 minutes, 4 – 5 times a week

  • Check your feet every day. The nerve damage that can occur in diabetes most commonly affects the feet

  • Seek support if necessary. If you require assistance in establishing proper dietary changes, or to help deal with stress and other difficult emotions, such as anger and depression, that might come after diagnosis, it would be valuable to contact your health care practitioner who can supply you with all the tools and support that is needed to enable you live a happy and healthy life, despite the diagnosis.

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