At the beginning of this year, the number of people in the UK with diabetes reached 4.7 million.
According to a charity, the number of people affected by diabetes is expected to reach 5.5 million by 2030.
This will, in turn, lead to an increase in the number of heart attacks and strokes as a result of the condition.
This increase is partly due to rising levels of obesity, which is “the single greatest risk factor for developing the condition”.
A number of charities and organisations are urging that “bold action” is needed to tackle the obesity epidemic, as well as more education on the disease.
So for Diabetes Week 2019, here is everything you need to know about the causes, symptoms and how to treat it.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes the level of sugar in the blood to become too high, caused by problems with the body’s level of insulin.
It can lead to potentially serious problems such as:
- heart disease or stroke
- nerve damage
- foot sores and infections
- partial sight or blindness
- miscarriage and stillbirth
- kidney problems
What’s the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?
People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin, whereas people with Type 2 diabetes don’t respond to insulin as well as they should and later don’t make enough insulin.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 per cent of cases, which is linked to obesity and overall poor health.
Type 1 diabetes makes up 10 per cent of cases, which has nothing to do with lifestyle choices and is neither preventable nor reversible.
What are the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes?
Many people develop type 2 diabetes without realising. However, some of the symptoms to look out for include:
- peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- feeling thirsty all the time
- feeling very tired
- losing weight without trying to
- itching around the genitals, or repeatedly contracting thrush
- cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- blurred vision
Why is Type 2 diabetes linked to heart attack and stroke?
Studies suggest that type 2 diabetes greatly increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
This is because people with type 2 diabetes may develop a number of conditions, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, which contribute to their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The British Heart Foundation has said that the diabetes epidemic could lead to a 29 per cent increase in heart attacks and strokes linked to diabetes.
How is Type 2 diabetes treated?
Once you’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you will usually be offered metformin tablets first, which work by reducing the amount of sugar your liver releases into your blood.
If your blood sugar levels don’t lower within 3 months, you may need another medicine.
Over time, you may find you need a combination of medicines to treat the condition.
There is a range of diabetes medication available, so speak to your GP who can advise you on what treatment is right for you.