What is Diabetes and what's the difference between Type 1 and Type 2?
When we eat food it is turned into sugar or glucose in our digestive system. This provides fuel for our cells but glucose needs the help of a hormone called insulin to get into the cells. Problems with this movement of glucose occur in Diabetes.
In Type 1 Diabetes the body makes little or no insulin. In Type 2 Diabetes the body doesn't make enough insulin, it no longer responds to insulin in the way that it should or both.
Type 1 is usually diagnosed in childhood or as a young adult. Type 2 was traditionally diagnosed in middle age or later in life but in recent times it is becoming more common in younger people.
This means that glucose stays in the bloodstream and doesn't move into the cells
In the short term the cells don't get enough fuel so the person becomes tired. To try and dilute the blood, fluid is drawn out of the cells and this leaves the person dehydrated.
In the long term high blood sugar levels can do damage to lots of organs resulting in:
Loss of vision, even blindness
Pain or loss of sensation in the hands and feet
What causes Diabetes?
The cause of Type 1 Diabetes is mainly genetic - so you can't prevent yourself from getting it.
Genetics contribute to Type 2 as well but our lifestyle choices play a role too. Obesity and inactivity increase the chances of getting Type 2 Diabetes.
What are the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
Sometimes people with Type 2 Diabetes will have
The need to urinate frequently
But usually there are no symptoms at all.
If there are no symptoms then what's the problem?
The disease can be present for a long time and quietly doing serious damage without anyone even knowing that it's there.
The lack of symptoms is really a problem because it may be many years before treatment is started or any effort is made to control the disease.
Eventually someone with Type 2 Diabetes will present to their doctor with an irreversible complication if it isn't caught sooner.
How would I know that I have Type 2 Diabetes?
If you are overweight you could be at risk of Type 2 Diabetes. A blood test would reveal whether or not you are Diabetic.
If I have Type 2 Diabetes what treatment is available?
Medication is the mainstay of treatment - there are tablets available to control blood sugar levels. Some people need to inject insulin too.
People with Diabetes are at risk of Heart Attack and Stroke so extra medication will often be prescribed to try to prevent these.
Losing weight, stopping smoking, regular exercise and a healthy diet also help.
What about sugar, does it cause Type 2 Diabetes?
It is a bit of a myth that sugar causes Type 2 Diabetes. Eating a lot of high energy foods of any source be they fats, sugars or carbohydrates can lead to obesity and that is what puts us at risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
If you already have Diabetes you do need to be particularly careful of what you eat in the short term as your body's ability to regulate sugar levels is not very good. That doesn't mean you can never eat desserts or treats but be smart about it. Not everyday and don't overdo it.
Asthma can be mild, barely interfering with day to day life or severe enough to be life-threatening.
What triggers should I avoid?
We don't understand exactly why some people get asthma and others don't. It seems to run in families to but there isn't a clear pattern. We do know the triggers that can make it worse though. The most common triggers are:
1. I get wheezy when I do exercise - should I give up?
No! Exercise - especially in cold air can make asthma symptoms worse, but it's more important to stay active. If walking or running outside you should use a scarf over your mouth and nose to warm the air. You should also take an extra puff of your quick-acting inhaler about 10 minutes before any planned exercise.
2. My son has asthma, he's 7, will he grow out of it?
Asthma is more common in children than adults. Many children "grow out" of asthma as they get older but for others it persists throughout their life.
If someone is going to grow out of asthma this will usually happen by the age of 15. If they continue to have symptoms beyond this it is more likely to stay with them.