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Diabetes is a condition affecting the endocrine system (your glands and the hormones that they produce), whereby the pancreas stops producing insulin or produces too little; or where the cells in your body are resistant to the insulin that your pancreas produces.

  • Insulin is the hormone that ‘unlocks’ the cells in your body and allows the glucose in your blood to be used for immediate energy needs, or is stored away to be used later on.
  • Blood glucose comes mainly from carbohydrates in the foods you eat. These are broken down in your digestive system and then transported around your body to be used as fuel for the energy we need in everyday life.
  • Unless you have enough insulin the glucose in your blood cannot be used efficiently, hence causing your blood glucose levels to rise.
  • If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause long-term health problems. Being diagnosed with diabetes will give you the opportunity to make the necessary changes to your lifestyle, therefore enabling you to avoid some of the risks associated with diabetes.

Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. A third type called gestational diabetes can sometimes develop in pregnant women. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, visit your doctor for a complete evaluation. Symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Lack of interest or concentration
  • 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)
  • Vomiting and stomach pain

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Sources: International Diabetes Federation, Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes, http://www.idf.org/signs-and-symptoms-diabetes.  Accessed March 24, 2014; Joslin’s Diabetes Mellitus, 14th Edition 2005, New York Ovid Technologies; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Mol. NIDOK; Kronenberg: Williams Textbook of Endocrinology 11th Edition 2008.

Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or advice from a qualified healthcare professional.
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