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4.9 million people in the UK currently have diabetes. If nothing changes, that number could rapidly increase to 5.5 million by 2030.

 

It’s a pretty shocking statistic, but one that many people tend to ignore. After all, it’ll never affect you, right? And even if it does, many people live with it – so it can’t be that bad…

 

Unfortunately, you would be incorrect. Although you may think diabetes is simply watching your diet, it’s a life-long condition leading to severe medical conditions if it goes untreated. You won’t be able to go about your life as usual. You’ll need to consider eating and behaviour habits, take medicine and go for regular checkups. It can affect your everyday life, so it is crucial to recognise the signs and learn how to manage the condition.

 

The following article explains the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the symptoms and the risks. It also advises how to manage them and the ideal blood test to take if you have or are at risk of diabetes. 

 

What is Diabetes?

 

Diabetes is a long-term medical condition when your blood sugar (glucose) is unhealthily high. Glucose creates energy in the body from the food you consume throughout the day. The hormone insulin (made in the pancreas) helps deliver the sugar through the bloodstream to your cells and converts it into energy. 

 

When the body doesn’t create enough insulin, glucose levels can’t get where they need to go and stay in the bloodstream. It’s like having a lack of lorry drivers. There’s no one to deliver your parcels, so they build up in the warehouse and never reach their destination.

 

Why is Diabetes Bad?

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Over time, the sugar left in your bloodstream thickens or ‘caramelises’ the strands of material that make up your blood vessels. This process hardens them, so they lose elasticity and restrict blood flow.

 

When your blood cannot travel sufficiently around your body, it cannot effectively deliver the nutrients and oxygen your body needs to function.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

 

Type 1 diabetes is an immune condition. The body assaults the insulin hormone, killing it off so it cannot deliver glucose around the body. It can occur at any age (including children). Scientists consider the cause of type 1 as a collection of ‘high-risk genes’ (although having those doesn’t necessarily result in diabetes), viral infections, diet, and inadequate gut health.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

 

Type 2 diabetes is when your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, increasing the glucose levels in your blood. You may have a higher risk of type 2, depending on genetics.

90% of people with diabetes have type 2, and numbers are rising.

 

The Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

 

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The table below explains the main differences between type 1 and type 2, but read on to find more details about why diabetes causes specific symptoms and risks.

 

Type 1 Type 2
What is it? An immune system condition.
The body attacks pancreas cells, killing off insulin.
The body isn’t creating enough of the insulin hormone, or the insulin you do have is insufficient (bad at its job).
What causes it? Doctors are unsure what causes it, but it’s most likely a mixture of genes, diet, and the gut microbiome. Again, it’s unclear, but usually genes and lifestyle. 
What are the symptoms? Thirst, tiredness, tingling sensations, and blurry vision. The same as type 1.
What are the risks? Heart disease, blindness, and nerve damage.  The same as type 1. 
How do you manage it? Medication. Diet, exercise, and medicine.
Is it curable? No. Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes is a life-long medical condition that will always need treatment. No. However, unlike type 1, you can put type 2 diabetes into a remissive state. That means you temporarily or permanently reduce the symptoms of the illness.

 

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

 

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes share similar symptoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the Risks of Diabetes?

 

Diabetes has serious health concerns, and you should take both types seriously.

 

 

Diabetes is the main cause of blindness. 

 

 

 

In the UK, heart disease is fatal to someone every 3 minutes. 

FAQs 

What are the first signs of being diabetic?

 

The initial signs are feeling tired, needing to go to the loo often, and having a constant unquenchable thirst. You may also experience strange sensations in your hands and feet or always feel hungry. Severe weight loss is another significant sign of diabetes. 

 

What causes diabetes?

 

Your body either attacks the hormone that transports glucose or does not make enough insulin in the first place. Genetics, diet, lifestyle, or gut microbiome can trigger type 1 or 2 diabetes. 

How long can you have diabetes without knowing?

 

People with type 1 diabetes typically know immediately or as soon as it develops. The symptoms can appear rapidly over a few weeks or even days, from children to adults. Others may struggle with type 2 diabetes for years without realising it because the symptoms are less severe and grow over time.

How to Manage Type 1 Diabetes

 

Type 1 diabetes means your body attacks insulin, so you cannot manage it through diet alone. It’s essential to use insulin injections that provide the body with the hormone you need to regulate glucose levels. 

 

You will need to consider what you’re eating daily and check your blood sugar levels to ensure you inject the correct amount of insulin to balance the hormone.

 

How to Manage Type 2 Diabetes

 

You do not necessarily need to take medication for type 2 (although it can help). Eating foods that increase blood flow gives constricted vessels a helping hand by making it easier for nutrients and oxygen to travel around the body. Regular exercise also strengthens the heart muscles, so it doesn’t have to work overtime pumping blood. 

 

What to Avoid If You Have Diabetes

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What to Do If You Have Diabetes

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Best Blood Test for Diabetes

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Taking a blood test for diabetes can determine if you are at risk of developing the condition. It’s also a way to check your glucose levels if you already have a diagnosis so you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

 

The best test to take is the Diabetes (HbA1C) Blood Test. It measures HbA1C (the amount of sugar in your blood) and detects if it is above average. 

 

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Are Manageable Conditions With the Right Treatment

 

If you have a diagnosis or are worried about diabetes, then understanding the symptoms and risks is critical to take charge of your health. Take the correct medication, adjust your diet and lifestyle, and take regular blood tests to keep track of the condition.

 

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References

 

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/professionals/position-statements-reports/statistics

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes

https://nexs.ku.dk/english/news/news-archive/2018/too-much-sugar-decreases-the-function-of-blood-vessels/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20reasons%20for,risk%20factors%20for%20cardiovascular%20disease.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-1-diabetes/about-type-1-diabetes/what-is-type-1-diabetes/#:~:text=Type%201%20diabetes%20causes%20the,blood%20glucose%20levels%20under%20control.

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/research/research-round-up/research-spotlight/research-spotlight-what-causes-type-1-diabetes#:~:text=The%20genetics%20of%20Type%201,chances%20of%20you%20developing%20it.

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/types-of-diabetes/type-2

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-symptoms/art-20044248#:~:text=Excessive%20thirst%20and%20increased%20urination&text=Your%20kidneys%20are%20forced%20to,usually%20leave%20you%20feeling%20thirsty.

https://www.retinarisk.com/blog/how-many-people-go-blind-from-diabetes/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444

https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/alzheimers-diabetes-link#:~:text=High%20blood%20sugar%20has%20been,a%20main%20trait%20of%20Alzheimer’s.

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke#:~:text=High%20blood%20glucose%20from%20diabetes,can%20lead%20to%20heart%20disease.&text=People%20with%20diabetes%20tend%20to,age%20than%20people%20without%20diabetes.

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/diabetes-treatments#:~:text=If%20you%20have%20type%201,eating%20well%20and%20moving%20more.

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/hba1c