Each year World Health Day is held on 7th April, marking the anniversary of the World Health Organisation being founded in 1948. World Health Day focuses on a different disease or health issue every year in order to raise awareness and educate people on how to treat or prevent certain illnesses. This year, World Health Day 2016 is covering diabetes – one of the most common and serious diseases in the world. In 2008, an estimated 347 million people around the world were diagnosed with diabetes. It is estimated that by 2025 there will be approximately 5 million people with diabetes in the UK alone.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is lifelong metabolic disorder that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2 – with type 2 affecting approximately 90% of adults with diabetes in the UK.

Type 1 is when the patient is insulin dependent and is usually developed during childhood or as a young adult. Type 1 diabetes destroys pancreatic cells, and as a result no insulin can be produced, meaning glucose levels increase which can seriously damage internal organs.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common and is more prevalent in people who are overweight and over the age of 45. People who suffer from type 2 diabetes are no longer able to produce insulin and sugar builds up in their bloodstream. Type 2 is a progressive condition, meaning those who suffer from the disease may eventually need medication.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include:

If you or someone you know is experiencing two or more of the above symptoms, visit your GP as soon as possible and express your concern.

How is diabetes treated?

There is currently no cure for diabetes, meaning if you have been diagnosed you need to carefully manage your treatment. If you have type 1 diabetes you will most likely need insulin injections in order to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it is important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and do an increased level of exercise. In many cases, those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight and should aim to lose 10% of their bodyweight in the space of a year in order to maintain their condition.