Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. People with diabetes have problems converting food to energy. After a meal, food is broken down into a sugar called glucose, which is carried by the blood to cells throughout the body. Cells use insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas, to help them convert blood glucose into energy.

People develop diabetes because the pancreas does not make enough insulin or because the cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly, or both. As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood increases while the cells are starved of energy. Over the years, high blood glucose, also called hyperglycemia, damages nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputation.

The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes, is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. In this form of diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body's immune system has attacked and destroyed them.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form. People can develop it at any age, even during childhood. This form of diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. In time, however, it loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals.

Gestational diabetes develops in some women during the late stages of pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, a woman who has had it is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones of pregnancy or by a shortage of insulin.

Anyone 45 years old or older should consider getting tested for diabetes. If you are 45 or older and your BMI indicates that you are overweight, it is strongly recommended that you get tested. If you are younger than 45, are overweight, and have one or more of the risk factors, you should consider testing. Ask your doctor for a FPG or an OGTT. Your doctor will tell you if you have normal blood glucose, pre-diabetes, or diabetes. If your blood glucose is higher than normal but lower than the diabetes range (called pre-diabetes), have your blood glucose checked in 1 to 2 years.

A major research study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, confirmed that people who followed a low-fat, low-calorie diet, lost a modest amount of weight, and engaged in regular physical activity (walking briskly for 30 minutes, five times a week, for example) sharply reduced their chances of developing diabetes. These strategies worked well for both men and women and were especially effective for participants aged 60 and older.

For additional information about how you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, see the NIDDK booklet Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? Also, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) offers several booklets as part of its "Small Steps, Big Rewards (PDF, 1.44 MB)" campaign on preventing type 2 diabetes, including information on setting goals, tracking progress, implementing a walking program, and finding additional resources.





Contact Details

You can easily contact us in several ways:

Telephone : (01286) 672717
E-mail : staff@barnetpepper.co.uk
Post : Barnet Pepper Optometrists & Contact Lens Practitioners,
28 Pool Street,
LL55 2AB