- The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
- Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation.
- A healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.
Diabetes is a group of diseases that impact how the body uses blood glucose, and it affects around 495 million people in the world.
Around 10% of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body’s defense system attacks the cells that produce insulin. As a result, the body produces very little or no insulin. The exact causes of this are not yet known but are linked to a combination of genetic and environmental conditions.
Type 1 diabetes can affect people at any age but usually develops in children or young adults. People with type 1 diabetes need daily injections of insulin to control their blood glucose levels. If people with type 1 diabetes do not have access to insulin, they will die.
The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched. However, having a family member with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk of developing the disease. Environmental factors and exposure to some viral infections have also been linked to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes
The most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
Knowing the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes is vital. Up to five children and teenagers are diagnosed each week with Type 1 diabetes in Ireland with 10% having a late diagnosis resulting in critical illness.
The four main symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are easy to remember:
Thirst: Excess drinking, unable to quench thirst.
Toilet: Frequent urination, particularly at night.
Tiredness: Lack of energy, sleeping more than usual.
Weight loss: Rapid weight loss over a short period.
Lack of concentration
Vomiting and abdominal pain
Itchy skin infections
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for around 90% of all diabetes cases.
It is generally characterized by insulin resistance, where the body does not fully respond to insulin. Because insulin cannot work properly, blood glucose levels keep rising, releasing more insulin. For some people with type 2 diabetes, this can eventually exhaust the pancreas, resulting in the body producing less and less insulin, causing even higher blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).
Type 2 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in older adults but is increasingly seen in children, adolescents and younger adults due to rising levels of obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
peeing more than usual, particularly at night
feeling thirsty all the time
feeling very tired
losing weight without trying to
itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
Diagnosis and treatment
Early diagnosis can be accomplished through relatively inexpensive testing of blood sugar with the help of the blood sugar app.
Treatment of diabetes involves diet and physical activity along with lowering blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.