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Knowing that you have any kind of disease is awful, but at least once you know about it you can seek the necessary treatment to keep yourself as ‘well’ as possible. However, there are some common diseases that can lie unknown for years without any physical or psychological hints that they are there, these are the silent killers. Among them are diabetes and high blood pressure.

In the UK it is estimated that there are 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes, with an additional 850 000 who don’t have a clue that they have it. In the United States of America it is estimated that a total of 25.8 million people have diabetes, with 18.8 cases diagnosed and another 7 million cases undiagnosed. Furthermore, the American Diabetes Association believes that there are approximately 79 million people who are on the brink of developing the disease.

Defining Diabetes

DiabetesDiabetes is a condition where the level of glucose in the blood rises too high because the body is unable to use it properly. Whenever you eat the body breaks down the food into different minerals that we need; one of them is glucose which is a simple type of sugar. While the food is being broken down, the pancreas secretes a hormone, called insulin, which makes its way to the cells in the body and this insulin allows each cell in the body to use this glucose as energy for our day to day activities.

When a person has diabetes the pancreas is unable to secrete the amount of insulin that the body needs in order to use the glucose. In more severe cases the pancreas does not secrete any insulin at all and the person may be prescribed insulin via injections or in tablet form.
Since the glucose is not being used it builds up in the blood and if left untreated can cause complications.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is put into two main categories; type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually found in children and is generally treated with giving the patient extra insulin whereas type 2 diabetes, formally known as adult-onset diabetes is noninsulin dependent. Due to the ‘silent’ nature of diabetes it can be left untreated for years, and if this happens the risk of developing further and very serious complications including; heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputation of limbs due to circulatory difficulties.

Who Gets Diabetes

A patient is more likely to develop diabetes if they have a direct relation who is diabetic. A direct relation could be a parent or sibling with diabetes, over the age of 45. Some women who are pre-disposed to developing diabetes may find that they develop gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is high sugar levels that are experienced during pregnancy. This usually happens during the later weeks of pregnancy, i.e. from week 28 onwards. Minor cases of gestational diabetes can be diet controlled by the patient. This usually involves keeping a food diary and taking glucose measurements at home after eating a meal (the length of time after the meal will be specified by the doctor). After pregnancy the glucose levels usually go back to normal follow up monitoring will be necessary.

The best way to avoid diabetes is to keep intake of sugary foods to a minimum and take regular exercise. Regular monitoring by a doctor is also recommended.

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