What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disorder caused by the body’s failure to use the glucose in blood properly. This generally happens when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin for helping glucose enter the cells. Approximately 2.8 million people in the UK are diagnosed with a type of diabetes and it is estimated that other 850,000 live with diabetes unknowingly.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a long-term and progressive disease, which is often associated with disability and the threat of serious complications. There are several types of diabetes, with the most frequent ones being type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes and it results from the inability of the pancreas to secrete insulin, a hormone that is essential for feeding glucose to cells. This represents 5-10% from the diabetes cases and appears frequently in young people. Type 2 diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a disorder of the metabolism that is characterised by hyperglycaemia (the elevation of blood glucose levels).

Symptoms and Causes

Significant weight loss, headaches, fatigue associated with intense thirst and frequent urination may suggest that a person suffers from diabetes. In many cases, diabetes has its origins in family medical history, but lifestyle plays an important role in triggering the disease. Being overweight (especially around the waistline), the lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets, rich in saturated fats and sugar are important factors. Other factors that may trigger diabetes are the consumption of alcohol and smoking. Besides an unhealthy lifestyle, a family history of cardiovascular events or strokes occurred before the ages of 45 are additional risk factors.


While diabetes is not a curable disease, it is possible to balance it by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Reducing the intake of sugar and saturated fats is essential. The doctors may also advise you to stop smoking, lose several pounds and introduce some moderate physical activity into your daily routine.

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