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Diabetes is a life-long health condition which occurs when the body is unable to use glucose or sugar properly, causing the blood sugar to rise to levels too high. If high blood sugar is not treated, serious health complications will develop.

The pancreas is an organ that releases a hormone called insulin which helps your body store and use fat and sugar from foods you eat. The pancreas is always releasing small amounts of insulin into the body, but when sugar levels rise, it releases larger amounts. Shortly after we eat, our bodies begin digesting carbohydrates, which it then breaks down into glucose. When the pancreas detects incoming glucose, it releases insulin which attaches to the glucose and moves it into the cells.

Diabetes is when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, or if it makes too little insulin, or if your body responds inappropriately or not at all to insulin.

In the UK, approximately 3.9 million people, or one out of every 16 people have diabetes, whether they are diagnosed or undiagnosed.

The two most common types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. The third, and least common, type of diabetes is gestational.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreatic cells which produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system. So, those these people need to rely on insulin injections in order to control their blood sugar, and in order to stay alive. Most frequently, this type of diabetes begins in people under the age of 20, though it can appear at any age. This type of diabetes has nothing to do with the lifestyle of the diabetic. Approximately 10% of diabetics have Type 1.

Some of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, blurred vision, increased hunger especially after eating, fatigue, labored breathing, and unexplained weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes is the result of a complicated interaction of environmental and genetic factors. It is diagnosed when the body either does not make enough insulin or the insulin it makes does not work correctly, so the glucose builds up in the blood. More then 55% of Type 2 diabetes can be either prevented or delayed by a healthy lifestyle. Frequently called adult-onset diabetes, it usually occurs in people who are over 40 years old, and overweight, though people who are not overweight can have Type 2 diabetes. Many people with The 2 diabetes can manage their diabetes with a healthy diet and weight as well as regular exercise, but most have to take medication which helps their bodies use insulin more efficiently. Still others must inject insulin to keep their blood sugar down. Approximately 90% of diabetic people have Type 2.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be any combination of the symptoms of Type 1 as well as slow-healing cuts or sores, yeast infections, tingling or numbness of the hands and feet, itching of the skin, particularly in the groin or vaginal regions, and in men, erectile dysfunction.

Pregnancy, because of its hormonal changes, can trigger gestational diabetes. About 4% of pregnancies trigger gestational diabetes. Pregnant women over the age of 25 and overweight before they become pregnant, are Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or black and have a family history of diabetes are most at risk for gestational diabetes. If left untreated, gestational diabetes are at higher risk of complications to both the unborn child and the mother. Generally, blood glucose levels will return to normal by the sixth week after childbirth, but women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in her life.

Diabetes can have serious and even life-threatening complications affecting virtually every part of the body.

Kidney disease, or nephropathy, can happen in numerous ways. If the patient has prolonged high levels of blood glucose can cause the kidneys to filter too much blood, causing them to become overloaded to the point that they begin leaking protein into the urine rather than allowing the body to use it normally. When the amounts of leaked protein are small, the condition is called microalbuminuria, and when caught early, medications can stave off kidney disease, but if it is caught too late, it becomes macroalbuminuria, which eventually progresses into end stage renal failure.

Diabetics are at risk for high blood pressure, peripheral arterial disease which is a major cause of non-traumatic amputations, and stroke, and heart disease. In fact, 2 out of 3 diabetics die of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, or stroke. Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts, all of which affect the eyes, can cause blindness. Other complications of diabetes include problems with the digestive system, feet, teeth, and nerves.



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