Diabetes - medical information

Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in children and young people.

In England and Wales 17 children in 100,000 develop diabetes each year.

Causes of diabetes

  • Diabetes is a condition where there is an imbalance between the insulin and the glucose in the human body.
  • Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, enables cells to absorb glucose (sugar)  in order to turn it into energy.
  • Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to, insulin.
  • This causes glucose to accumulate in the blood leading to various potential complications.

Symptoms of diabetes

  • Thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent urination

Symptoms that are more typical for children and young people

  • Stomach pains
  • Headaches
  • Behaviour problems

 

Treatments for diabetes

Type 1

  • Good diet and healthy eating
  • Regular exercise
  • Daily insulin injections
  • The overall aim is to maintain near normal blood sugars.

Type 2

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Take regular exercise
  • As type 2 diabetes can get progressively worse over time it may be necessary to take medication. (This will normally be in the form of tablets, but can sometimes require insulin injections.)

Technical terms

  • Hypoglycaemia  - Glucose levels too low.
  • Hyperglycaemia - Glucose levels too high.
  • Glucose comes from the digestion of carbohydrate containing food and drinks and is also produced by the liver.
  • Insulin is vital for life. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas and helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives.

There are two main types of diabetes

Type 1 - insulin dependent

  • Type 1 diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin.
  • This type of diabetes usually appears before the age of 40.
  • Type 1 diabetes is the least common of the two main types and accounts for between 5 and 15 per cent of all people with diabetes.
  • You cannot prevent Type 1 diabetes

Type 2 - non insulin dependent

  • Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
  • In most cases this is linked with being overweight.
  • This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40. 
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common of the two main types and accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all people with diabetes.

Chandler explains the effects that the diagnosis of diabetes had on her and on her family and friends.

(video from NHS Choices YouTube channel)

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