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Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high because your body cannot use it properly. This happens because your body either cannot use or make a hormone called insulin, which is responsible for turning sugar into food for your body's cells.
There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type 1, where your body is unable to produce any insulin
- Type 2, where your body either does not produce enough insulin, or cannot use it.
Symptoms of diabetes
The main symptoms of diabetes are:
- Increased thirst
- Frequently needing to go to the toilet, especially at night
- Extreme tiredness
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Genital itching
How is diabetes treated?
If diabetes is not controlled, it can cause serious damage to your kidneys, eyes, nervous system, heart and blood vessels. Treatment for diabetes aims to avoid this by keeping blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible.
- Type 1 diabetes is usually treated by insulin injections, as well as healthy eating and being active.
- Type 2 diabetes is usually treated by healthy eating and being active alone, but sometimes tablets or insulin injections are also needed.
Diabetes and high blood pressure
About 25% of people with Type 1 diabetes and 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure.
Having diabetes raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other health problems. Having high blood pressure also raises this risk. If you have diabetes and high blood pressure together, this raises your risk of health problems even more.
If you have diabetes, your doctor will want to be sure that your blood pressure is very well controlled. This means that they will probably want your blood pressure to be below 130 over 80.
People with diabetes and high blood pressure are sometimes given the blood pressure medicines known as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, because they are thought to help protect the kidneys. However, other blood pressure medicines can also be used.
How do I lower my risk of diabetes?
Many factors determine your risk fo developing diabetes - your age, your ethnicity, or any family history of diabetes, for example. Some of these things you cannot do anything about.
However, you can help to lower your risk of diabetes by following a healthy lifestyle - for example, by stopping smoking, by eating a healthy diet and keeping to a healthy weight, and by getting more active.