Diabetes - what you need to know

The Midland Regional Diabetes Fund was established recently to raise funds for the new regional diabetes centre which will be established at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar.

The group is hosting its inaugural fundraising event, the Rat Pack Gala Ball, in the Mullingar Park Hotel this evening, Friday October 3, with all proceeds going towards the new centre and providing a better service for diabetes patients in the midlands.

Diabetes - the facts

Here are the top three facts that you might not know about diabetes:

Ireland is experiencing an epidemic increase in diabetes, in conjunction with spiralling obesity.

Diabetes is a common chronic medical disorder with approximately 250,000 people diagnosed in Ireland. 

For every one person diagnosed there are three people undiagnosed.  Approximately, 15 per cent of patients have Type1 Diabetes and 85 per cent have Type2 Diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition, which arises when the pancreas gland does not produce enough of the hormone called insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin produced, thereby causing an elevated blood sugar or Hyperglycaemia.

Normally, the body produces insulin, which helps glucose move from the blood stream into the cells where it is used for fuel and energy. This reduces the blood glucose level and keeps it within the normal range. Blood vessels and other parts of the body can be damaged if blood glucose stays high over a period of months or years. In order to control blood glucose and to reduce the risk of complications, the patient needs to be able to manage their own diabetes on a day to day basis. Damage may occur to the blood vessels and nerve endings in the body which may lead to complications that affect the eyes, the kidneys, the feet, and heart.

Types of diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes mainly affects people under the age of 40, and is characterised by an auto-immune destruction of the insulin-producing Beta cells of the pancreas gland in genetically predisposed individuals. 

Type 1 Diabetes is due to absolute insulin deficiency, where the person is dependent on insulin treatment for survival. This lack of insulin results in high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia ) and requires daily insulin injections to reduce the blood glucose level to normal. 

Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 85 per cent of people with diabetes. The body produces some insulin; however, it may be ineffective, and so causes the blood glucose to rise. The rapid increase in the prevalence of obesity with resultant Type 2 Diabetes and associated complications is a major global health problem. Type 2 Diabetes has a more gradual onset and affects mainly middle aged people over 40; however due to increasing levels of obesity in children we are now seeing this condition in younger age groups.


Treatment of diabetes can involve lifestyle changes including weight loss and exercise, diet alone, diet and tablets, or combination of tablets and insulin injections.


When blood glucose levels rise too high, various symptoms may develop, such as passing large amounts of urine, feeling very thirsty with a dry mouth, lack of energy, recurrent infections (eg thrush ), and vomiting or abdominal pain. Weight loss may not always be present. You may also find ketones in the urine or blood stream, or glucose in the urine.


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