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Living with diabetes

Diabetes is a permanent chronic condition that can have serious consequences if not treated correctly. Living with diabetes is difficult, and if it’s not properly managed it could lead to the onset of other health conditions such as kidney disease.

About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, dealing with weight gain, stress, mental health and constant injections. There are many factors to consider, and it can be stressful knowing what's best, but you shouldn’t need to put your life on hold. Wherever you’re at with your diabetes, know that you have options and that you don’t have to be held back. You can still live your life to the fullest if you take action and stick with it. 

This year Diabetes Awareness Week will run from 13–19 June to celebrate each person living with this condition, juggling the ups and downs that come with it.


You may have heard people say they have “a touch of diabetes” or that their “sugar is a little high.” These phrases may suggest that diabetes is not a serious disease. People who have diabetes don’t speak out about the severity of their condition, but Diabetes is serious. There are however ways to manage it.

What are the types of Diabetes?

We know that Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to produce or respond to the hormone insulin effectively. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood.

There are 3 types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from making insulin.

With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active.

Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems.


Did you know there is a thing such as prediabetes? There are no clear symptoms when it comes to prediabetes, so you may have it and not even know it. Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. You may also experience some of the symptoms of diabetes or even some of the complications. It is important to have these symptoms checked by your health practitioner before they worsen.


There are a number of treatments available to help manage diabetes, from insulin to tablets. Everyone is different, so treatment will vary depending on individual needs.

Everyone with type 1 diabetes, and some people with type 2 diabetes, need to take insulin to manage their blood glucose levels. If you have type 1 diabetes, you take the insulin by injection or by using a pump to manage blood glucose levels.

If you have Type 2 diabetes, you may have to use insulin or tablets, though you might initially be able to treat your diabetes by eating well and being more active. 

Managing blood sugars effectively is really important in reducing your risk of future diabetes complications and insulin may be the most appropriate treatment choice for you. 

Technology and diabetes

Technology is changing the way we live our lives, including developments in managing diabetes.

Depending on the type of diabetes a patient has, they may have used things like insulin pens and blood glucose monitors. There are also apps and smart technology to help keep an eye on weight and activity levels, but the options to manage diabetes are growing as technology starts to develop. 

Newer tech to help check blood sugars are CGMs and Flash. These electronic blood sugar monitors allow patients to check their blood sugar levels without pricking their fingers. Patients can see what happens to their blood sugar levels during the day and night.

Some people with type 1 diabetes use an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor that talk to each other. This is called a closed loop system, which is also known as an artificial pancreas. This is because it can do some of the work to help manage blood sugar levels.

There is also the option of an islet cell transplantation, but this comes with its own challenges. A successful islet cell transplant can improve the quality of life for a person with diabetes, but it's an evolving technology that's still being researched. Islet cells sense blood sugar levels and make insulin. The cells come from a donor which means the immune system will recognize it as foreign and will try to destroy it. Patients would need to take strong drugs to suppress the immune response and prevent rejection. The long-term effects of these immunosuppressive or anti-rejection drugs are not yet known.

Managing diabetes

Diabetes doesn't just affect people physically; it can have an effect on emotional wellbeing too. It is common to feel overwhelmed, sad, or angry when living with diabetes, but necessary steps can be taken to stay healthy and maintain mental health.

Patients can cope with diabetes by learning ways to lower their stress, like breathing, meditating, listening to music or going for a walk.

Asking for help is also an option. Speak to a mental health counsellor, support group, or even family and friends that will understand.

Eating well and getting regular exercise is important. Make a diabetes meal plan and choose foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt. Drink lots of water instead of juice and soda.

Although there is no cure for diabetes, learning how to manage diabetes by finding education, support, and resources can improve quality of life, helping patients live longer.