This may sound strange but many people do not know what diabetes is. I was in a meeting at a care home recently and the subject of diabetes was raised. Some of the relatives of the residents did not know what caused diabetes or what happens when you suffer this awful disease. To say I was amazed at their apparent ignorance would be an understatement.
There are several clients in this particular nursing home who through diabetes have had limbs amputated. So, for anyone who doesn`t know here is a quick guide about diabetes.
There are three types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes.
All three types have the same problem, your body can`t make or use insulin, a hormone that your body produces to be able to transform the sugars or glucose from your food into energy. If your body does not produce enough insulin the sugars/glucose stays in your bloodstream. This in turn leads to high levels of blood sugars.
Over a period of time this can lead to;
- Kidney damage.
- Heart Disease.
- Loss of limbs (amputations see pictures below).
Type 1 diabetes invariably starts in childhood. The main thing to be aware of is that this could be passed from close family members, so check to see if other people in the family (on both parents’ sides) have a history of diabetes.
If you have a close relative mother, father, or siblings with diabetes there is a 6 to 10% chance that the risk is greater than normal. I personally would ask for a blood test from your doctor which can diagnose type 1. If you have had an injury or disease of the pancreas this also increases the risk of type 1.
Type 2 diabetes is usually more related to adulthood although we are getting more of this in younger people and particularly in children through bad diet and lack of exercise. We have the highest levels of childhood obesity ever and any child who is overweight or obese is at risk of type2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes causes insulin resistance this is the condition when the body can`t use the insulin it produces. When you have insulin resistance the cells in your body can`t respond to insulin the hormone that moves sugar/glucose from your blood to the body’s cells. Your pancreas has to work that much harder so that your body can get the energy it needs, and this can then lead to type 2 diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes if you start with diabetes while you are pregnant this is what is called gestational diabetes. The risk factor of developing type 2 diabetes increases dramatically.
What to be aware of about gestational diabetes.
- The older a woman is when she is pregnant the greater the risk.
- Being overweight or obese puts you at risk. (The old wives’ tale that you should eat for two is absolute rubbish)
- A history of glucose intolerance.
- Do you have a family history of diabetes.
The Risks to your child.
- Around 2 to 4 % of pregnancies worldwide result in gestational diabetes.
- Hormones are produced by the placenta during pregnancy or by not enough insulin.
- This can lead to development and growth problems with your child.