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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition.  This means that it lasts for a long time, often for someone’s whole life.

For our bodies to work properly we need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy.

In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body.

So when people with diabetes eat glucose, which is in foods such as breads, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yoghurt and sweets, it can’t be converted into energy.  Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood. This is why blood glucose levels are higher in people with diabetes.

Glucose is carried around your body in your blood. Your blood glucose level is called glycaemia.

Type 1 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach, stops making insulin. Without insulin, the body’s cells cannot turn glucose (sugar), into energy. Without insulin the body burns its own fats as a substitute. Unless treated with daily injections of insulin, people with type 1 diabetes accumulate dangerous chemical substances in their blood from the burning of fat. This can cause a condition known as ketoacidosis.This condition is potentially life threatening if not treated.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

The following are symptoms of type 1 diabetes:

  • Being excessively thirsty
  • Passing more urine
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Having cuts that heal slowly
  • Itching, skin infections
  • Blurred vision

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