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Let’s myth-bust diabetes – here’s what you need to know

According to Diabetes Ireland, the amount of people in Ireland living with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in Ireland can be estimated at around 226,000. And despite this, unless you or a loved one are living with diabetes, it’s likely that many of us may have misconceptions about what exactly it involves. Let’s take a closer look…

The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 

Type 1 diabetes usually occurs either in childhood or young adulthood. It’s an autoimmune condition caused by the body attacking insulin-making cells in the pancreas. This type of diabetes cannot be prevented and its cause is unknown.

Type 2 diabetes can occur at any age and accounts for the vast majority of people who live with diabetes. Here, the body either isn’t able to use insulin in the right way due to insulin resistance, or has stopped producing enough of it or both.  Type 2 is more associated with being overweight and most often first presents in people over the age of 40. However, it is increasingly diagnosed in children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented – or delayed – with changes to lifestyle and diet.  

The complications of diabetes are very serious if the condition is not monitored and managed properly. Serious long-term issues include chronic kidney failure, stroke, heart disease and damage to the eyes.

How do I know if I’m at risk? 

Symptoms of diabetes – of both types – include increased thirst, increased need to urinate and increased hunger.  The symptoms tend to develop quite quickly, over a few days or weeks for people with Type 1 diabetes. 

How can I prevent my risk of Type 2 diabetes? 

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. However, Type 2 diabetes can often be either delayed or entirely prevented by maintaining a normal body weight, keeping active and ensuring a healthy diet. Taking more than 90 minutes of exercise per day reduces risk of diabetes by almost 30%. 

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