Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and, over time, leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.

There are 347 million people worldwide that have diabetes. In 2004, an estimated 3.4 million people died from consequences of high fasting blood sugar. More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight, and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. There are different kinds of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile, or childhood-onset) is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause is not known and not preventable with current knowledge.
  • Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.
  • Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. Symptoms of gestational diabetes are similar to Type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is most often diagnosed through prenatal screening rather than reported symptoms.
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) are intermediate conditions in the transition between normality and diabetes. People with IGT or IFG are at high risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes, although this is not inevitable.

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms: The general signs and symptoms of diabetes do not necessarily indicate having it; many other things can also cause similar signs and symptoms. If these signs or symptoms last for a long time or get worse, consult your physician.

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss even though you are eating more (Type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (Type 2)
  • Women with gestational diabetes often have no symptoms, which is why it’s important for at-risk women to be tested at the proper time during pregnancy.

Source/Reference: American Diabetes Association; World Health Organization (WHO)