Managing Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus (commonly known as diabetes) is a type of disorder by which the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood is abnormally high because the body does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in blood) to move the glucose into the cells. The resulting high levels of glucose in the blood and the inadequate amount of glucose in the cells together produce the symptoms and complications of diabetes.

Diabetes in Singapore

According to the National Health Survey 2010, one out of 5 people aged 50 – 59 has diabetes and one out of 3 people aged 60 – 69 has diabetes.

Types of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes - Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (used to be known as juvenile-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes) affects about 5 – 10% of all people with diabetes. Most people who have type 1 diabetes develop the disease before age 30. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin. The illness and symptoms develop quickly (over the span of days or weeks) because the level of insulin in the bloodstream becomes too low.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) affects about 90% of all people with diabetes. Most people who have Type 2 diabetes develop the disease after age 40. Generally it occurs in people who are overweight or obese and but it also tends to run in the family. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas continues to produce insulin. However, the body develops resistance to the effects of insulin such that there is not enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. The symptoms generally do not develop as quickly as in Type 1 diabetes and may often be vague at first.

Who is likely to develop Diabetes Mellitus?

Certain risk factors increase the chance of developing diabetes. You are at a higher risk if you:

  • have a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes (first degree relative can be parents, siblings, or children).
  • lead an inactive lifestyle.
  • have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 23.0 kg/m2; the risk is even higher if your BMI is greater than 30.0 kg/m2 (obese).
  • have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) (blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes).
  • have impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) (inability to regulate glucose effectively)
  • have hypertension (blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher).
  • have coronary heart disease.
  • have hypercholesterolemia (HDL cholesterol less than 1.0 mmol/L, and/or triglyceride level more than 2.30 mmol/L).
  • have polycystic ovary disease.
  • have diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance during pregnancy.
  • have given birth to a child that weighs over 4 kg.