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Diabetes is a serious, often life-long health condition that occurs when the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body is unable to use it properly.

There are two main types of diabetes; type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Each type has its own causes and symptoms, but both are serious and require medical treatment and management.

The typical symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Thirst
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting

Type 2 diabetes symptoms include:

  • Thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Skin infections
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry skin

If left untreated, diabetes can cause a number of serious health issues, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and even amputations and blindness.

Today, there are approximately 365 million diabetics across the globe, equating to 8.5% of the population. Here in the UK, there are approximately 2.9 million diabetic people, although there are also thought to be 500,000 currently undiagnosed diabetics. And the condition is becoming increasingly common throughout the world, mainly due to ever-increasing levels of obesity.

Causes of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This means that glucose can not be moved out of the bloodstream, into the cells, leaving the body without enough insulin to function normally.

Risk factors include:

  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Chemical toxins within food
  • Unidentified component resulting in an autoimmune reaction
  • Genetic disposition

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is develops when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level, or when the body isn't able to utilise the insulin that is produced.

Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Age
  • Diet
  • Genetics
  • Ethnicity
  • High blood glucose levels

Screening for Diabetes

Diabetes screening tests are an effective way to catch the development of diabetes at an early stage.

As the prevalence of the condition continues to increase in the UK, screening tests are becoming more common.

A number of tests can be used in the diabetes screening process, including:

  • C-peptide test - A blood test used to identify how much insulin your body is producing. This test can be used to identify whether a patient has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or an insulin resistance.
  • Fasting plasma glucose test - This simple blood test can be used to help diagnose diabetes or pre-diabetes. The blood is taken after 8-10 hours of fasting.
  • GAD antibodies test - This blood test measures whether the body is producing a type of antibody that destroys its own GAD cells. It can be used to help identify whether a patient has type 1 diabetes.
  • HbA1c test - This is an important blood test that is one of the key screening tests for type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes indication test - This looks at risk factors in developing diabetes.

If you require any further information about screening for diabetes, or to arrange a consultation, please get in touch. Our skilled and experienced team are always on hand to provide assistance.