What is diabetes? Signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 explained

What is diabetes? It is a serious long-term condition when the level of glucose - or sugar - in the blood runs too high. 

According to Diabetes UK, it happens because the body can’t use the sugar as fuel for various reasons.

These particular reasons divide the four million sufferers in the UK into two groups - type 1 and type 2.

An estimated 90 per cent of sufferers fall into the latter group, according to the NHS.

Type 1 is an auto-immune condition where the body attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, meaning no insulin is produced.

Insulin is a hormone responsible for moving blood sugar into the cells to be used as fuel.

Importantly, there is no link between this form of diabetes and diet or lifestyle, and scientists are yet to discover why it happens.

In contrast, type 2 happens because the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, causing blood sugar levels to rise too high.

This type is often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, with it being possible to delay 58 per cent of cases through changes to diet and activity levels.

But how do you know if you have diabetes? Symptoms are caused by excess sugar levels in the blood.

Signs include feeling thirsty, needing to urinate more often than usual, itching around the penis, feeling tired and losing a lot of weight or muscle bulk.

While type 1 can be present from an early age, type 2 usually develops slowly over the age of 40 years.

According to Diabetes UK, there are a number of known risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

These include a family history, having high blood pressure and being overweight.

Additionally, if you are of South Asian descent and African-Caribbean or Black African descent you are two to four times more likely to develop the dangerous condition.

It is important to get a diagnosis because effective treatment can prevent potentially-deadly heart disease, kidney damage and stroke. 



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