14th November: World Diabetes Day...

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Celebrated in over 160 different countries; it marks the day Frederick Banting discovered insulin and has since become a period of time to spread effective awareness of the condition. With every year having a theme to the day, this year is no exception. It is once again: The Family and Diabetes.


Celebrations to spread information & raise awareness through holding meetings, lectures sporting events, programmes, campaigns, exhibitions and much more. In this article we’ll aim to get to grips with some basic, yet astounding, facts concerning the condition. Then symptoms and treatments will be explained before we go on to learn a little more on rarer cases which are less commonly known.


According to the NHS website, diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.


Type 1 vs Type 2.


Type 1 Diabetes is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells which produce a hormone called insulin. This hormone is what regulates the sugar levels in blood so without these cells, the sugar level is bound to rise. Type 2 Diabetes is where the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not react to insulin. There are currently 366 million people living with diabetes, with figures set to rise beyond 550 million by 2030. The condition is responsible for 4.6 million deaths a year, which is [brace yourselves], 1 death every 7 seconds.


In terms of treatment for type 1 diabetes, there is basal insulin which gives your body the insulin it needs whether you eat or not. This is long-acting. In contrast, bolus insulin is fast-acting, taken with food or drink to reduce the rise in blood glucose levels which occur as a result of eating or drinking. For type 2 diabetes, most people also need medication to prevent health problems as a result of the diabetes. The condition usually gets worse over time and consequently dosage of the medication will also change.


Did you know that the risk of developing high blood sugar levels increases during pregnancy?


This is known as gestational diabetes and usually disappears after giving birth. It can happen at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second or third trimester. Usually increase in sugar levels occurs as your body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs of pregnancy. Common symptoms include increased thirst, needing to urinate more than usual, a dry mouth and tiredness.

As I researched into diabetes, the effects of the condition and different stories, I began to realise just how vast the field of research is and how truly difficult it would be to condense the most important points into one article. However, one case which caught my interest was that of a patient who was misdiagnosed with type 1 diabetes, only to discover 27 years later that she had a rare form of diabetes caused by a mutation (change) in a single gene. Monogenic diabetes is a rare condition resulting from mutations in a single gene. It appears in several forms and most often affects young people.


Mark Strachan, a consultant in diabetes and endocrinology at the General Hospital in Edinburgh told the BMJ:

“We have a large clinic of people with monogenic diabetes, and we thought we were good at picking it up. But Sophie [the girl that was misdiagnosed] had never been on our radar. That made us think there must be other people in the clinic with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes who were misclassified.”

Since this case emerged, patients with type 1 diabetes are offered routine blood tests and 10 new cases of monogenic diabetes have been discovered.


So, the moral of today’s article seems to be to go for regular blood tests - even if you have already been diagnosed with a condition like diabetes. It took 27 years for Sophia’s diagnosis to be corrected!


Here’s to hope for the development of a healthier society and consequently a reduction in the number of people with type 2 diabetes. And, to those suffering with diabetes, know that you’re not alone.


Happy celebrating, but don't over indulge on the sweet ;D


References:

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/get_involved/world-diabetes-day

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/diabetes-pregnant/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/understanding-medication/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-1-diabetes/about-insulin/

https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l4352

https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l6085

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