Causes and side effects of Diabetes

Information about diabetes and the side effects of diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes
There are currently 4.05 million people living with diabetes in the UK, this is an increase of 65% over the last decade. There are thought to be 549,000 people living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes UK, 2016).

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly, so the glucose stays in the blood and isn’t used as fuel for energy.

In the past, Type 2 diabetes was known as maturity onset and affected mostly older members of the population. Today we are seeing increasing numbers of young adults developing Type 2 diabetes and in most cases this is a result of poor life style choices.

The common side effects of diabetes:

  • An increased need to urinate, especially at night (polyuria).
  • Being really thirsty.
  • Feeling more tired than usual.
  • Losing weight without trying to.
  • Genital itching or thrush.
  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal.
  • Blurred vision.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone. It works as a chemical messenger that helps your body use the glucose in your blood to give you energy. You can think of it as the key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells. Once he door is unlocked glucose can enter the cells where it is used.

The four main risks for developing type 2 diabetes are:

  • Age – being over the age of 40 (over 25 for South Asian people)
  • Genetics – having a close relative with the condition (parent, brother or sister)
  • Weight – being overweight or obese
  • Ethnicity – being South Asian, Chinese, Afro-Caribbean, or black African origin (even if you were born in the UK)

If you are any of these, you should keep a close eye out for the side effects of diabetes.


Up to 80 per cent of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by making simple changes in your everyday life:

  • Healthy eating
  • Exercise

Exercising regularly and reducing your body weight by about 5% could reduce your risk of getting diabetes by more than 50% (Diabetes UK). Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, although with the proper self-management and support from health professionals, the side effects of diabetes can disappear.

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