Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
In the UK, diabetes affects approximately 2.9 million people. There are also thought to be around 850,000 people with undiagnosed diabetes.
Leicester has a higher than average prevalence of diabetes with almost 7% of the city currently registered. Diabetes is linked to obesity and is also around four times more prevalent in the South Asian population.
If you have diabetes, your body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there is either not enough insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar) to move the glucose from the blood into your cells to be used as energy, or the insulin produced does not work properly.
Type 1 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. As no insulin is produced, your glucose levels increase, which can seriously damage the body’s organs.
If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you will need insulin injections for the rest of your life. You will also need to pay special attention to certain aspects of your lifestyle and health to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced – for example, by eating a healthy diet and carrying out regular blood tests.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.
If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may be able to control your symptoms simply by eating a healthy diet and monitoring your blood glucose level, but medication may eventually be required.
Being obese increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
People who are diagnosed with diabetes find it useful to take part in an education programme to help them to learn how to manage their condition on a day to day basis. The Leicestershire Diabetes Centre has developed such courses. If you feel you need some additional support, your GP can arrange this for you.