Why you must visit a doctor if you suspect diabetes
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90 per cent of all adults with diabetes have type 2.
There are 3.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK. That’s more than one in 16 people in the UK who has diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed).
This figure has nearly trebled since 1996, when there were 1.4 million. By 2025, it is estimated that 5 million people will have diabetes in the UK.
Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.
This is sometimes known as prediabetes. If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes is increased.
It’s very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.
Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.
If you’re diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you’ll need insulin injections for the rest of your life.
You’ll also need to pay close attention to certain aspects of your lifestyle and health to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced.
For example, you’ll need to eat healthily, take regular exercise and carry out regular blood tests.
In type 2 diabetes, you may be able to control your symptoms simply by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and monitoring your blood glucose levels.
However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, you may eventually need medication, usually in the form of tablets.
Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity. Obesity-related diabetes is sometimes referred to as maturity-onset diabetes because it’s more common in older people.
If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to sight loss if it’s not treated.