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Last updated: 5th Sep 2023

Diabetes comprises a collection of metabolic disorders in which chronic hyperglycaemia arises as a result of insulin deficiency, insulin resistance, or a combination of the two.

There are three main types of diabetes. The most common, Type 2 diabetes, is often secondary to weight gain and involves impaired insulin secretion and the development of insulin resistance.

Type 1 diabetes is characterised by absolute insulin deficiency resulting from autoimmune destruction of the β-cells of the pancreas.

Gestational diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin to compensate for the state of increased insulin resistance that occurs during pregnancy.

Symptoms of diabetes include polyuria, thirst, infections and blurred vision, with suspected cases confirmed using blood tests.

Long-term diabetes is associated with various microvascular complications including retinopathy and nephropathy, as well as macrovascular disease, so effective treatment to normalise blood glucose levels is vital. While patients with type 1 diabetes require treatment with insulin, early type 2 diabetes can often be managed through lifestyle modifications, although glucose lowering agents may be required, particularly as the disease progresses.

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