World Diabetes Day takes place on Wednesday 14 November 2012. To mark the occasion the diabetes department in Louth/Meath Hospital Group are inviting members of the public to attend free diabetes information events in Louth County Hospital, Dundalk and Our lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, or people at risk of developing diabetes are encouraged to visit the Outpatients Department in Louth County Hospital or the health promotion corner on the ground floor of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital between 10am and 4pm on the day. Staff from the diabetes department will be on hand to provide advice and information on managing diabetes, in relation to food, foot-care, and pre-pregnancy planning for women with diabetes or a history of gestational diabetes.
Diabetes is now recognised as one of the most chronic diseases of the 21st century. It is estimated that 366 million people worldwide have diabetes, with the number expected to reach some 380 million by 2025. In Ireland, it is estimated 240,000 people have diabetes – half of which are unaware of it.
Speaking in advance of the diabetes information events, Pauline O’ Hanlon diabetes nurse specialist Louth Meath Hospital Group said, “Many people could have type 2 diabetes for over seven years without realising it. It's very important to be aware of the risk factors, which include being overweight, having a family history of the illness, and in relation to women, if they have a history of gestational diabetes or have had large babies (over 10lb). However, both type 2 and type 1 diabetes can be managed effectively by incorporating a healthy diet and physical activity, monitoring blood glucose, medication and attending for regular follow up with their GP or diabetes hospital clinic."
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic, potentially debilitating and often fatal disease. The disease occurs as a result of problems with the production and supply of insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps ‘sugar’ (glucose) to leave the blood and enter the cells of the body to be converted into energy.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes (previously referred to as insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset diabetes) occurs when the body does not produce insulin. It can affect people of any age, but usually occurs in children or young adults. People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood.
In Type 2 diabetes (previously called non-insulin dependent diabetes or mature-onset diabetes) the body cannot use the insulin it produces effectively. The onset of type 2 diabetes is linked to genetic factors but obesity, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet increase the risks of it occurring. In the past, it was thought of as a disease of the elderly. However, due to the rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children and young adults.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes. Worldwide, many millions of people have type 2 diabetes without even knowing it.
Some women develop a third, usually temporary, type of diabetes called ‘gestational diabetes’ when they are pregnant. Gestational diabetes develops in 2-5% of all pregnancies, but usually disappears when the pregnancy is over. Women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.
The onset of type 1 diabetes is often sudden and dramatic and can include symptoms such as:
Abnormal thirst and a dry mouth
Extreme tiredness/lack of energy
Sudden weight loss
The same symptoms that are listed above can also affect people with type 2 diabetes, but usually the symptoms are less obvious. The onset of type 2 diabetes is gradual and therefore hard to detect. Indeed, some people with type 2 diabetes show no obvious symptoms early on. These people are often diagnosed several years later, when various complications are already present.
Risk Factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes
Family history of Type 2 Diabetes
History of Gestational Diabetes (Women)
Women who had large babies (over 10lb)
Poorly controlled blood-glucose can result in short and long-term complications, many of which, if not prevented and left untreated, can be fatal.Diabetes is among the top 10 causes of disability, resulting in life-threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, lower limb amputations, kidney failure and blindness.All have the potential to reduce the quality of life of people with diabetes and their families.
Diabetes can be prevented
Early detection and the adoption of proven measures to prevent diabetes can significantly lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, delay its onset or at least reduce its impact. People with type 2 diabetes can usually control the level of glucose in their blood by following a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, and oral medication (tablets).
For people with type 1 diabetes, it is not yet possible to prevent the condition. However, much can be done to prevent or delay diabetes complications by healthy eating, regular physical activity, medication and regular follow-up with the GP or diabetes clinic.