18th June 2021

As you may know, this week is Diabetes Week, which takes place every year in June. This is an annual UK-wide initiative, organised by Diabetes UK, and devoted to raising awareness of diabetes and raising money to help fund research into the condition. 

This special week is now the annual focal point for all of the charity’s diabetes awareness, campaigning and fundraising activities. This year they are encouraging everyone to share their #DiabetesStories through anything from art, music, poetry, to creating your own film or just chatting with a friend. 

Diabetes is a common chronic condition; most people will know someone who is affected, and this is why it is so important to understand what it means to those with the condition. 

Here are 5 important facts we should all know:

1. More than one in 16 people in the UK has diabetes.1

• Currently there are more than 4.9 million people living in the UK with diabetes.1

• It is estimated that 850,000 people are currently living with type 2 diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed.1

2. There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2

• Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas. It is hypothesised that whilst there is a genetic predisposition to type 1 diabetes, there is likely to be an environmental factor that triggers the initial development, such as a viral infection. It is most commonly diagnosed in 10 to 14 year-olds but can be diagnosed at any age.2 Around 10% of people with diabetes have Type 1.3

• Type 2 diabetes is the most common type and can be caused by several factors, including lifestyle factors and genes. For example, obesity can sometimes lead to insulin resistance where liver, muscle and fat cells do not use insulin as they should. As a result, the pancreas produces more insulin to help glucose enter the cells, but ultimately, over time, the insulin-producing capacity of the pancrease reaches its limit and blood glucose levels rise.3

3. There are many symptoms and indicators of diabetes.

• Many symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar, but the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes usually develop quickly, in a matter of weeks. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes often develop slowly over the course of several years. Being aware of early signs can help prevent serious complications later.4

• Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes share some common symptoms, including:

  • Increased thirst and urination

• Increased hunger whilst losing weight

• Fatigue

• Blurred vision

4. Anyone can develop diabetes.

• Why people develop diabetes is complicated. Some things can increase the risk of developing diabetes, like age, family history, lifestyle and race. But sometimes it isn’t clear why people become diabetic. Anyone can develop diabetes; it does not discriminate. 

5. There is a lot more to manage than just taking tablets or injections.

• Living with diabetes involves questions, decisions and things to remember every day, such as what you can and can’t eat, when to measure your blood sugar, and when to take your treatment.5

So, let’s all raise awareness of this condition so we can fight for better care for the millions of people already living with diabetes and work together to prevent the rise of Type 2.  

For more information on Diabetes Week and how you can get involved, go to:  https://www.diabetes.org.uk/get_involved/diabetes-week

References

1. Diabetes statistics. Diabetes UK. 2021. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/professionals/position-statements-reports/statistics

2. Causes of Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes. 2021 Available from: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/causes-of-type1-diabetes.html

3. Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes | NIDDK . National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2021 ci. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/symptoms-causes

4. Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes . Diabetes UK. 2021. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/differences-between-type-1-and-type-2-diabetes

5. Jensen K, DiLallo K, Ridout A, Lew K. Everday Carry: Type 1 Diabetes. Folks. 2021. Available from: https://folks.pillpack.com/my-everday-carry-with-type-1-diabetes/