Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) or alternatively, when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. The overall risk of dying among people with diabetes is at least double the risk of their peers without diabetes. 1
Diabetes is a defect in the body’s ability to convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Glucose is the main source of fuel for our body. When food is digested it is changed into fats, protein, or carbohydrates.
Foods that affect blood sugars are called carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, when digested, change to glucose. Examples of some carbohydrates are: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, fruit, and milk products.
“Life is not over because you have diabetes. Make the most of what you have, be grateful”
Individuals with diabetes should eat carbohydrates but must do so in moderation.Glucose is then transferred to the blood and is used by the cells for energy.
In order for glucose to be transferred from the blood into the cells, the hormone – insulin is needed. Insulin is produced by the beta cells in the pancreas (the organ that produces insulin).
In individuals with diabetes, this process is impaired. Diabetes develops when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient quantities of insulin – Type 1 diabetes or the insulin produced is defective and cannot move glucose into the cells – Type 2 diabetes.
Either insulin is not produced in sufficient quantities or the insulin produced is defective and cannot move the glucose into the cells.
Diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves, leading to disability and premature death
- Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset diabetes) is characterized by deficient insulin production in the body. People with type 1 diabetes require daily administration of insulin to regulate the amount of glucose in their blood.If they do not have access to insulin, they cannot survive. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known and it is currently not preventable. Symptoms include excessive urination and thirst,constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue.
- Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult- onset diabetes) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of people with diabetes around the world.Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked or absent. As a result, the disease may go undiagnosed for several years, until complications have already arisen. For many years type 2 diabetes was seen only in adults but it has begun to occur in children.
Overweight and obesity are the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes
- Diabetes is associated with a significantly increased risk and rate of cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia. In a 15-year prospective study of community-dwelling people > 60 years of age, the presence of diabetes at baseline significantly increased the age and sex-adjusted incidence of all-cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia compared with rates in those with normal glucose tolerance.
- The starting point for living well with diabetes is an early diagnosis – the longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse their health outcomes are likely to be.Easy access to basic diagnostics, such as blood glucose testing, should therefore be available in primary health-care settings. Established systems for referral and back-referral are needed, as patients will need periodic specialist assessment or
treatment for complications.
- Diabetes imposes a large economic burden on the global health-care system and the wider global economy. This burden can be measured through direct medical costs, indirect costs associated with productivity loss, premature mortality and the negative impact of diabetes on nations’ gross domestic product (GDP).
- Over time diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves, and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Such damage can result in reduced blood flow, which – combined with nerve damage (neuropathy) in the feet – increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and the eventual need for limb amputation.
- Much type 2 diabetes results from modifiable risk factors that can be reduced using a combination of approaches at population and individual levels. Creating supportive policy, social and physical environments for healthy lifestyles is a key aspect of type 2 diabetes prevention.
- The starting point for living well with diabetes is an early diagnosis – the longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse the health outcomes are likely to be. Easy access to basic diagnostics for diabetes is therefore essential and diagnosis should be available in primary health-care settings.
- The physical complications associated with diabetes, including poor vascularization, can cause lower- limb wounds that may lead to amputation. Without proper care and support this can profoundly limit a person’s ability to work, play a full family role and enjoy recreational activities.Furthermore, people with diabetic wounds require close attention to prevent infection and deterioration that can lead to death. Rehabilitation services play a fundamental role across the continuum of care for people with diabetes, helping prevent complications and providing interventions to keep people mobile and active.
- Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012. Higher-than-optimal blood glucose caused an additional 2.2 million deaths, by increasing the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases.Forty-three percent of these 3.7 million deaths occur before the age of 70 years. The percentage of deaths attributable to high blood glucose or diabetes that occurs prior to age 70 is higher in low- and middle-income countries than in
People with diabetes are more likely to incur catastrophic personal health expenditure