What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition of the body which prevents it from converting sugars and starches in your food into energy. The body needs insulin to do this.
Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas. It enables glucose to enter the body’s cells to be used as fuel for energy which in turn allows us to carry out our daily activities and live our lives. It is essential for life.
Diabetes occurs when the glucose cannot enter the body’s cells to be used as fuel. This happens because the body doesn’t produce any insulin (Type 1) or because the insulin that is being produced isn’t enough or isn’t being used effectively (insulin resistance) by the body (Type 2).
When diabetes is present, the glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of the cells, causing these common symptoms –
- Profound tiredness
- Frequent passing of water
- Increased thirst
- Genital itching and repeated episodes of thrush
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow to heal wounds or sores
Symptoms are more often to be found in people with Type 1 diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes may have no or very few symptoms prior to diagnosis.
It is important to remember that diabetes can affect different people in different ways.
What care to expect
When you are diagnosed, you should be given a full explanation of diabetes and a care plan.
You should be involved in agreeing goals and targets achievable by you. Take a note of what is agreed. It will come in useful to chart your progress over time.
At the very least you should have regular reviews for the following –
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
- Legs and feet
- Psychological support
- Help to stop smoking
- Access to information and education programs
How can we support?
We know that a diagnosis of diabetes, like any long-term condition, can feel devastating and overwhelming.
There will be so many questions that you want to ask; so much information available that you don’t know where to start and this can be a daunting prospect.
Honesty and reliability are at the top of our list. If you ask us a question and we don’t know the answer, we will find it for you or at the very least point you in the right direction of someone who can.
Our annual event program is designed to provide an opportunity for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, parents and carers, to come together to learn more about the condition and how to manage effectively. We know that there is a great deal to gain by sharing concerns and feelings with appropriate healthcare professionals and other people with diabetes in a relaxed, unhurried and friendly environment.