Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your body is unable to use insulin. Insulin causes the cells in the liver, muscle and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood. There are two main reasons why this might happen; either your body doesn't produce enough insulin, or doesn't produce any at all, or the insulin that it does produce doesn’t work properly. This means that glucose can’t get into your cells and stays in your blood stream instead. So, if you have diabetes you have high levels of glucose in your blood stream.
Type 1 diabetes is when your body produces very little or no insulin at all. This kind of diabetes usually first occurs in children and younger people and it’s less common than type 2 diabetes. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, but they do know that it’s an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is where your immune system, which normally fights infection, attacks your own cells instead. If you have type 1 diabetes your immune system attacks the cells that make insulin.
Because your body can no longer make its own insulin this type of diabetes is always treated by taking insulin, usually by injection. Eating healthy foods and keeping active can also help you to manage type 1 diabetes because they can help you to control your blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is when your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or when the insulin it makes doesn’t work well enough to help glucose get into your cells. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in people over the age of 40, though if you’re of South Asian or African Caribbean origin it can develop earlier than this. It’s the most common type of diabetes and is closely linked to your lifestyle, for example, being overweight or inactive is linked to having diabetes. It can be managed by eating the right foods, by being active and by taking tablets or insulin if you need to.
Both kinds of diabetes are conditions that once you have them they will be with you for the rest of your life. Although there is no cure and you can’t get rid of diabetes, you can manage it successfully.
- Up to 4.3% of the UK are diagnosed with diabetes
- Check your feet daily and avoid going barefoot
- Keep up a regular foot care regime