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Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body is unable to regulate its blood glucose.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body is unable to regulate its blood glucose. Glucose is one way in which energy is stored in the body. It is metabolised by cells to produce energy, so the cells can function and the body can live. If there is too little glucose then the cells will not be able to function and we will feel tired or pass out. Too much glucose can also be a problem, as the sugars interact with organs and can cause problems in the kidney, eyes and nerves.

The body can sense how much glucose is present and it regulates your blood glucose with the hormone Insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas. When blood glucose is high more insulin is produced, and it tells cells to take up glucose and store it. When blood glucose is low its levels fall, and the body responds by releasing its stored glucose into the blood stream.

Type 1 Diabetes

With Type 1 Diabetes your body does not make any insulin. This is because the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys the cells that make insulin. This type of diabetes is often found in children and young adults, and usually requires daily doses of insulin to replace the missing insulin. Missing insulin doses can lead to a serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, which can lead to a coma and sometimes even be fatal.

Type 2 Diabetes

With Type 2 Diabetes the body’s ability to respond to high blood glucose slowly fails, and it does not make enough insulin. There are many risk factors for this condition, including obesity, family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, not physically active and have a history of heart disease or strokes. Unfortunately being of Indian origin will predispose you to having diabetes, and so it is important to understand how diabetes might affect you.

Gestational Diabetes

Finally some women may find they have a temporary onset of diabetes when they are pregnant. Usually this will go away once the baby is born. However patients who have had gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on in their life.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of diabetes include:

- Increased thirst

- Needing to urinate more, especially at night

- Increased hunger

- Blurry vision

- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet

- Sores in the feet

If there is increased sugar in the blood it can react with your body organs and cause problems. This is especially true for your kidneys, eyes, nerves and arteries.

- In the kidneys it affects the filtration system, causing excessive urine to be produced.

- It can damage the nerves in the hands and feet, causing reduced sensation.

- If damage occurs to the feet it can be harder to detect, and large sores can form.

- Damage to the lining of blood vessels can cause narrowing, reducing blood from reaching these sores, and worsening wound healing.

- Narrowed blood vessels also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in diabetics.

- All of these factors act together to affect the eyes and can cause worsening vision.

It is important to learn about your conditions and how they can affect you. Understanding your condition can help you understand how to manage and control it, so it does not affect your life. If you want to know more about your diabetes and whether it is being managed well, ask us a question on secondmedic.com.

Dr Rachana Dwivedi

MBBS, FRCOG, FICOG, PGC ( USS), DFFP

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospital