Diabetes is a chronic, lifelong condition which occurs due to a lack of insulin production and/or the body's inability to convert glucose/sugar to energy resulting in high blood sugar levels which causes complications throughout the body.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 - diabetes occurs due to a lack of insulin secretion from the pancreas, is mainly an auto-immune condition and rarely occurs due to family history. Type 1 Diabetes mostly occurs in children of all ages and may still be diagnosed into early adulthood.

Type 2 - diabetes occurs due to insulin resistance as well as less insulin availability. This form of Diabetes occurs in adult¬ hood and is usually due to a family history as well as incorrect lifestyle (healthy eating and exercise). Type 2 Diabetes may also occur due to prolonged use of various medications, e.g. corticosteroids. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition which results in the continuous decline in pancreatic function until the pancreas stops secreting its own insulin.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy and is due to the abnormal hormonal levels in the body. This causes insulin resistance mainly, but there could also be a lack of insulin secretion from the pancreas. Gestational Diabetes presents as Type 2 Diabetes. Usually when the Gestational Diabetic gives birth, her blood glucose levels return to normal. However, all ladies with Gestational Diabetes have a good chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life, especially if a healthy lifestyle is not maintained.

Signs and Symptoms

Dry mouth, excessive thirst, constant urination, extreme tiredness, sudden extreme weight loss, sores that won't heal, painful feet, blurred vision, erectile dysfunction, persistent vaginal thrush, infections that won't heal.

In the event of Type 1 Diabetes, additional symptoms are abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, sweet-smelling breath. As a matter of interest, I have to mention that these are guide¬ lines to follow.

However, each individual experiences their symptoms in various ways relevant to themselves, and there have been many incidences where people developed a heart condition or had a heart attack and only then are diagnosed with Diabetes having had no other classic symptoms of the condition. There have also been instances where people 'just did not feel well' and on blood glucose results, are diagnosed with Diabetes.

It is therefore advisable to have a blood glucose test done regularly if you are at risk e.g. have a family history, are over¬weight, have symptoms.


Once diagnosed, education regarding your condition is vital as awareness of how to best manage your condition is perhaps the most important aspect to prevent complications.

Type 1 Diabetes is managed with a healthy lifestyle as well as insulin therapy, and Type 2 Diabetes is managed with a healthy lifestyle as well as oral treatment and will eventually need insulin therapy. A healthy lifestyle translates into healthy food choices as well as additional activity to your day to day movement.

For more information on Diabetes kindly contact Diabetes South Africa
on 086 111 3913, send an email to national@diabetessa.org.za or visit  www.diabetessa.co.za