Diabetes. Do you know about the disease?

Tracey Southgate

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Many people think diabetes is an "old person's disease", but it's affecting more and more younger people... Are you at risk?

No, it does not only occur in obese, middle-aged men with unhealthy eating habits. Diabetes is also found in the young. Worldwide there is an alarming increase in diabetes amongst young people.

What is diabetes?

Sugar from carbohydrates is converted to glucose. Everyone has blood glucose. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that is released when blood glucose begins to rise. In diabetes, blood glucose levels are too high.

The disease is life-long and there are different types. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. People with this condition need to inject insulin to survive. Type 2 occurs when insulin is either insufficient or does not work properly.

Technicalities aside, what does this mean for teenagers with diabetes?

Currently it seems we are facing an epidemic in the diagnosis of diabetes. Many teenagers live with this condition, most of them diagnosed as juveniles. However, diagnosis can occur at any age. The youth already faces enough challenges as is. Hormonal changes, mood-swings, as well as social and emotional struggles. This is intensified with diabetes, but for many of us, it is just a way of life.

Young people tend to live in the now and are blinded when it comes to issues that surround us. It is important to know and understand that diabetes amongst the young is a reality. There are positive benefits in being mindful and aware of a condition such as diabetes. And to be educated about issues that might affect us can result in responsible and meaningful living.So if you’re vibrant and enjoying life, keep at it, but while you’re there, have your sugar levels checked.