What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes (or diabetes mellitus as it is also known) is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.

Diabetes is either the result of a lack of the hormone insulin in the body, or because the insulin that is there is not working effectively.

Diagnosis is confirmed when:

  • glucose levels are taken at a random time on two occasions. Any figure above 11.1mmol/l is a diagnosis of diabetes;
  • the glucose level measured after an overnight fast and on two different days is above 7.0mmol/l.

According to the Maltese Diabetes Association, there are over 30,000 persons in Malta who have been diagnosed with diabetes. However acoording to the same association, statistics also show that there are hundreds if not thousands who probably have the condition but do not know it.

More than three-quarters of people with diabetes have what is called type 2 diabetes mellitus.This used to be known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or maturity-onset diabetes mellitus.

The remainder have type 1 diabetes mellitus, which used to be known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

What Are The Symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst;
  • Passing urine more often than ususal, especially at night;
  • Tiredness;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush;
  • Slow-healing of custs and wounds.

What Causes Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. Nobody really knows why these cells have been damaged but the most likely cause is an abnormal reaction of the body to the cells. This may be triggered by a viral or other infection.

In type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is produced or the insulin that is made by the body doesn’t work properly. This tends to affect people as they get older and usually appears after the age of 40.

The following risk factors increase the chances of someone developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Increasing age;
  • Obesity;
  • Physical inactivity.

Rarer causes of diabetes include:

  • Certain medicines;
  • Pregnancy (gestational diabetes);
  • Any illness or disease that damages the pancreas and affects its ability to produce insulin, such as pancreatitis.

How Can You Monitor Your Blood Glucose Level?

If you want to find out what your blood glucose level is you can ask your Doctor, or you can ask your pharmacist. At Brown’s Pharmacies, we offer blood glucose monitoring. Contact your nearest Brown’s Pharmacy for more information.