Sunday November 14th is World Diabetes day and the theme this year is Diabetes Education and Prevention. The date coincides with the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting (November 14, 1891 – February 21, 1941), KBE, MC, FRSC, a Canadian scientist, doctor and Nobel laureate who discovered insulin with Charles Best. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923. In 1934 King George V (England) knighted him, i.e. he became a Sir.

This year’s slogan is Let’s Take Control of Diabetes Now. Among the aims this year are prevention and symptoms of diabetes.

Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, RD, President-Elect, Health Care & Education, American Diabetes Association, said:

    Diabetes is a serious epidemic facing not only our nation, but the world. It is the leading cause of blindness, kidney disease and amputations, plus it doubles your risk of heart attack and stroke. But knowing the signs and symptoms of diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, can help with early detection and treatment. Type 2 diabetes and many diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle intervention.”

The American Diabetes Association informs that there are 24 million Americans with diabetes, plus another 57 million who are at risk of developing type two diabetes. Globally, there are approximately 285 people with diabetes, says the International Diabetes Federation.

November is also American Diabetes Month, and the American Diabetes Association is pushing for improved awareness “of a disease that kills more Americans each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.”

Lack of awareness is the main cause of the disease going undiagnosed. Often symptoms may appear harmless.

Signs and symptoms of Diabetes Type 1

  • The patient has to urinate often
  • Abnormal thirst
  • The individual is much hungrier than normal
  • The person loses weight for no logical reason
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Irritability

Signs and symptoms of Diabetes Type 2

  • Any of those listed above, plus..
  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Vision problems, e.g. vision goes blurred
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities (hands and feet)
  • Recurring bladder, gum or skin infections
  • Some individuals with Type 2 may have no symptoms

The two best ways to significantly lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes is to try to get your body weight within normal considered parameters for your height and age, and to exercise five days a week in 30 minute sessions.

Mayer-Davis added:

    “In addition, many diabetes complications, whether you have type 1 or type 2, can be prevented or delayed with exercise and healthy eating.”

Diabetes mellitus, also known as simply Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism – the way the body uses digested food for growth and energy. Our food is mostly broken down into glucose after we eat it. Glucose, a type of blood sugar, is the body’s main source of fuel.

As we digest food, glucose enters the bloodstream. Our cells need glucose for energy, repairs and growth. Insulin allows glucose to enter our cells. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter our cells. Without glucose our cells starve and die.

Insulin, a hormone, is produced in the pancreas. When we eat the pancreases releases varying quantities of insulin so that glucose can enter our cells – the amount of insulin released depends mainly on the quantity of food ingested.

If glucose cannot enter the cells it will build up in the blood – that is diabetes. People with diabetes have elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia), because it is building up in the blood instead of entering cells and being used.

Hyperglycemia can occur for three reasons:

  • The pancreas stopped producing insulin. Diabetes Type 1. Usually because the person’s immune system destroyed the pancreas’ insulin-producing Beta cells.
  • The person’s insulin is not working properly (insulin resistance). Diabetes Type 2.
  • The person does not produce enough insulin. Usually Diabetes Type 2.

Diabetes Type 1 is known as an auto-immune disease and usually occurs to younger patients (under 40). Diabetes Type 2 usually starts later in life, and is mainly caused by being overweight and physically inactive.

To read about diabetes in more detail, click here.

Source: American Diabetes Association