In honour of World Diabetes Day on the 14 November, we’ve prepared these seven key facts you might not know about diabetes. Read on to find out more about this increasingly common condition, including advice on how to prevent and treat it.
More information about World Diabetes Day and how you can help curb the growing threat posed by the disease can be found here.
1) Diabetes is a growing problem
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 400 million people have diabetes worldwide and this number could double by 2025. The prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing over the past three decades, and latest research shows the global cost of the disease is more than US$ 800bn per year.
2) There are three different types of diabetes
The full medical name for diabetes is Diabetes Mellitus, and there are 3 main types: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes is when a person has a lack of insulin production. This usually develops from an early age in children and adolescents.
- Type 2 diabetes is when your body uses insulin ineffectively, and this occurs most frequently in adults.
- Gestational diabetes relates to pregnancy and can cause an increased risk of complications during delivery.
3) Type 2 diabetes is most common...
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.
4) … and preventable
Type 2 diabetes is preventable. Key risk factors include obesity, a high Body Mass Index (BMI) and a sedentary lifestyle - so healthy living, including a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help lower your risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Whilst Type 2 is largely preventable, unfortunately we still don’t quite know what causes Type 1 diabetes so there are no proven preventative methods.
5) You might not know you have it
About one in two people with diabetes do not know they have the disease, particularly as Type 2 diabetes can often be symptomless. It’s therefore important to be aware of the early warning signs, to help identify diabetes as soon as possible.
In Type 1 diabetes the classic symptoms are excessive urination, thirst, uncontrolled weight loss and tiredness. These symptoms may be less pronounced with Type 2 diabetes so other warning signs to look out for include a dry mouth, a constant feeling of hunger, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, a sweet or fruity body odor, and blurred vision.
6) Diabetes increases your risk of other health problems
When not properly managed, diabetes of all types can lead to other serious health problems, including blindness, heart attack, kidney failure and leg amputation. In fact, diabetes is currently the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults and people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease than those without.
7) Diabetes is manageable, but not curable
Diabetes is a chronic condition, so there is no cure. However it can be effectively managed through the careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, which also helps significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related health complications.
Treatment of diabetes is wide ranging and can include exercise, diet management, blood pressure control, and even foot care. It’s also important for diabetes patients to ensure they have regular screening for early signs of diabetes-related diseases, including kidney problems and retinopathy (which causes blindness).