Q & A: Diabetes facts at your fingertips

Q: What causes type 1 diabetes and what is the age group of people affected by it?
A: Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas gland no longer produces enough insulin to convert glucose into energy. It is normally diagnosed during childhood or young adulthood, but it can occur at any age.

Q: What causes type 2 diabetes?
A: Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not producing effective insulin. Type diabetes is promoted by an unhealthy lifestyle, such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise contributing to obesity.

Q: Can you catch diabetes from other people?
A: No. Diabetes is not contagious.

Q: Can anything be done to lower the chances of getting type 2 diabetes?
A: Yes. Research shows that by eating healthy foods and regularly exercising – that is, leading a healthy lifestyle—type 2 diabetes can be delayed and even prevented.

Q: Can type 2 diabetes be cured?
A: As yet, there is no cure for type 2 diabetes.

Q: Who usually gets type 2 diabetes?
A: Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults over the age of 50 but is increasingly occurring at a younger age.

Q: What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
A: Type 2 diabetes is most likely to occur if you:

  • Are over 45 years old and have high blood pressure;
  • Are over 45 years old and overweight;
  • Are over 45 years old and have one or more family members with diabetes;
  • Have heart disease or have had a heart attack;
  • Have had high blood sugar levels during pregnancy (gestational diabetes);
  • Have had a borderline high blood sugar test;
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome and are overweight.

Q: Can diabetes cause long-term damage?
A: Yes. Untreated or poorly managed diabetes can lead to a number of complications: eye problems; artery damage that increases the risk of a heart attack or a stroke; kidney damage; impotence in men; pregnancy complications; and nerve damage in the toes and feet which increases the risk of amputation.

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