What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is Caused by:

The inability to produce insulin, or by the body not being able to use insulin effectively.


The terms ‘type 1’ and ‘type 2’ are used to divide diabetes with some subgroups such as LADA and monogenic diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

10% of diagnosed cases

Type 2 Diabetes

80% of diagnosed cases

Gestational diabetes mellitus

10% of diagnosed cases

Diabetes Globally

The prevalence of diabetes is steadily rising. In most high-income countries, it is one of the highest cause of death, and the epidemic is rapidly growing in developing countries.

  • In 2015, five million people died of diabetes (one every six seconds)
  • Three-quarters of people with diabetes live in low and middle-income countries
  • 12% of the world’s total health spending is on diabetes.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of Both Type 1 & 2 Diabetes

Hunger and fatigue: Lack of insulin or resistance to insulin means glucose can’t be used effectively by the body, causing hunger and tiredness. Insulin aids the transport of glucose from the blood to muscles; insufficient or ineffective insulin leaves the muscles without an energy source and thus a feeling of tiredness ensues. Hunger is triggered by the body seeking extra energy sources but unfortunately eating more without the aid of insulin to transport the food to the muscles just escalates the blood glucose level.

Longer Term Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Yeast infections: Yeast feeds on glucose. Infections can grow in folds of skin including between fingers and toes, under breasts and around sex organs.

Type 1 diabetes only symptoms

Unexplained weight loss: When the body is unable to extract energy from food, it will instead break down muscle and fat.

Diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test. The test may be:

  • a fasting glucose test (8-hour fast)
  • random glucose test
  • oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) where a fasting patient has a blood test then drinks a sugary drink and has a blood test at one and two hours later.
  • an HbA1c test
  • an autoantibody test.

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