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What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes – short for diabetes melitus (DM) – is a group of metabolic disorders, characterized by high blood sugar levels over longer period of time. Symptoms usually include increased thirst and hunger and frequent urination. It can be the result of two things: either the pancreas is not producing enough insulin (Type 1), or the body is not responding well to the insulin produced (Type 2).

Diabetes: 3D IllustrationTypes of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 DM is also referred to as “juvenile diabetes”; it’s the result of the pancreas failing to produce enough insulin; it’s not known what causes it.
  • Type 2 DM is also referred to as “adult diabetes”; in this case, usually due to the lack of proper weight management, the body cells doesn’t respond properly to the insulin produced. It can evolve into Type 1 at later stages.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women who can develop high blood sugar levels, even though they have never had such problems before.

Some Relevant Stats

About 425 million people worldwide suffer from DM, which amounts to about 1 in 11 adults. Half of these cases are considered to be undiagnosed. Type 1 DM and gestational account for about one tenth of these cases; more than 90% of them are sufferers of Type 2 DM.

As of November 2017, 3.7 million people have been diagnosed with DM in the United Kingdom alone. Of these, more than 3 million live in England, about 289,000 in Scotland, almost 192,000 in Wales, and 92,500 in Wales.

Each year, as much as 5 million people die from diabetes-related causes.

Prevention and Treatment

Healthy diet and regular physical exercise is essential, as is avoiding the use of tobacco and regular blood pressure measurements. Insulin injections are necessary in the case of Type 1 DM, while Type 2 DM can be treated with medications with or without insulin.

A good way to keep your DM in check is the TRACK acronym:

  • Take your medications;
  • Reach and maintain the best weight for you;
  • Add more physical activity;
  • Control your ABC (A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels); and
  • Kick the smoking habit out of your life.

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