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  • Rayna Venkadesh

Understanding Diabetes

This Article was written by Rayna Venkadesh, Year 8

Did you know that this year is the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Insulin?

It was a major breakthrough in medicine and it helped a lot of people suffering from this illness. More and more people are getting diagnosed, it’s a serious globally affected illness.

Diabetes is rapidly rising and increasing every single day with 422 million people worldwide known to have diabetes- that is 1 in 11 people! An estimate of children and teenagers is about 1.1 million with 132,000 being diagnosed with Type 1 every single year.

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects the way your body turns food into energy. Diabetes is when your pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin helps glucose pass through the bloodstream and into the cells & the cells then produce it as energy. If your pancreas can’t use insulin effectively or can’t produce it, it can increase glucose levels (hyperglycemia).

Have you heard of the term “High Blood Sugar? Hyperglycemia means that there is too much sugar in your blood or as most people like to term it, high blood sugar. If nothing is done and the glucose levels keep on increasing, it can do severe damage to the body.

Types of Diabetes

There are 3 main types of Diabetes :

Type 1 : This category of diabetes mainly affects children and adolescents. When you have Type 1 diabetes, your body produces very little/no insulin at all, this means you need to inject yourself with insulin daily.

Type 2 : This sort of diabetes mainly affects adults and is most prominent. Type 2 is when your insulin isn’t used effectively. The treatment for Type 2 is living a healthy lifestyle, both being physically active and eating healthy. Overtime, most people will rely and require oral drugs/insulin to keep their glucose levels steady.

Gestational Diabetes (GMT) : is a classification of disease that affects women during pregnancy when they have high levels of glucose. It can have its complications on both the mother and the child. It usually disappears after pregnancy but it will still affect the mother and the child will be more prone to Type 2 diabetes developing later in life. The treatment of GMT tries to keep the glucose levels of those who have it the same as those who don’t. In order for that to happen, the treatment usually requires special meal plans, scheduled physical activity and possibly a daily dose of insulin.

There are some widely held stereotypes of people who have diabetes, but they are largely misconceptions:

  • "Only Adults get diabetes"

90% of diabetes cases are mostly adults but that doesn’t mean that children can’t get it.

  • "There’s nothing you can do to prevent diabetes"

You can’t entirely prevent diabetes but it decreases your chances when you have a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet.

  • "Eating too much sugar causes diabetes"

This stereotype is the one that I, personally, have heard the most of. Sugar doesn't cause diabetes, no one really knows the exact cause of this. What we do know is that factors such as being overweight and the environment makes you more susceptible to Diabetes

  • "It’s your fault if you have diabetes"

Diabetes is not your fault. There is no way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes and even though type 2 can be prevented by a few factors, it’s not entirely preventable either.

  • "You are not at risk if you are a healthy weight"

Being obese/overweight can lead to a numerous amount of health problems including increasing your risk of Type 2. Being a healthy weight does not mean you are immune to diabetes. Even people with a healthy weight can get diabetes.

  • "Diabetes is inconvenient, not serious"

According to the ADA (American Diabetes Association) diabetes has more deaths than Breast Cancer (On 14th October, there was PINK DAY, a day where students have at least one item that is pink or shows support to Breast cancer, cancer in the chest) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, a virus that attacks your immune system) put together!

By creating awareness of this condition, we work to break down barriers; preventing dangerous stereotypes and encourages us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


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