Diabetes is on the rise in the UK, with numbers estimated to grow to 5 million by 2025. Cases of type 2 diabetes, which is commonly linked to diet and lifestyle, are increasing at a particularly rapid rate, making it one of the world’s most common long-term health conditions.
Untreated, diabetes can lead to a host of health issues, which is why early diagnosis is important, giving you all the information you need to help prevent more serious problems from developing.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar rises, it tells your pancreas to release insulin, but this process can be interrupted, leading to complications that cause diabetes.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, and young adults, with this type of diabetes the cells of the pancreas can no longer make insulin because the body's immune system has attacked and destroyed them.
Type 2 diabetes
The most common type of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is associated with excess weight, physical inactivity, a family history of the condition or a previous history of gestational diabetes. It’s also more prevalent for certain ethnicities.
Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition linked to excess weight in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use insulin properly. As a result, the body needs more insulin to help glucose enter cells to be used for energy. At first, the pancreas is able to keep up with the added demand by producing more insulin. But over time, the pancreas loses its ability to provide enough insulin and blood glucose levels rise, causing a range of health problems.