What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body can't use glucose (a type of sugar) normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas. Insulin helps glucose to enter the cells.
Diabetes is caused when there is resistance to, or deficient production of insulin, which helps glucose move from the blood into the body’s cells. When the body does not produce or use enough insulin, the cells cannot use the glucose for energy and the blood glucose level rises. This means that the body will instead start to break down its own fat and muscle for energy.1
Globally, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of diabetes. It is estimated that if the current world wide trend prevails, there will be 380 million people affected by diabetes by the year 2025.2 Even though diabetes affects nearly 4% of the world’s population,3 many people know very little about the disease.
There are 2 primary types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that create insulin. As a result, the body makes very little or no insulin of its own. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body cannot properly use the insulin it does create. Eventually, the pancreas may stop producing insulin altogether. Type 2 diabetes can affect people at any age. In both men and women, the more overweight an individual is, the greater the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.4
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes accounts for more than 85-90% of people with diabetes in South Africa.1 In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas may make enough insulin, but the body cannot effectively use the insulin it creates. This is known as insulin resistance. Eventually, the pancreas may stop producing insulin altogether.
Type 2 diabetes traditionally affects people later in life, but can affect people at any age.
Additional risk factors or characteristics for type 2 diabetes include
- Family history of diabetes
- History of gestational diabetes
Because type 2 diabetes develops slowly and is often hard to detect, many people are not diagnosed until various complications appear. One-third of all people with diabetes may be undiagnosed.2
Depending on its severity, type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet and physical activity, oral medications, or insulin injections, though a combination of these therapies are often prescribed. Self-monitoring of your blood glucose can help measure the success of your therapy.
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