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Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that occurs when the body is unable to provide sufficient insulin — a hormone that keeps the blood sugar level balanced — or alternatively, does not respond properly to insulin, resulting in a high amount of sugar in the blood.

Types of Diabetes

The most common types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes (also known as Juvenile Diabetes) Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune chronic condition and is usually inherited and cannot be prevented. The patient’s pancreas produces little or no insulin and the patient depends on insulin to stay alive. Type 1 diabetes tends to occur in children and young adults – although it is also possible for Type 1 Diabetes to occur at any age. Type 2 Diabetes Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes that can occur to anyone at any age. While the body still produces insulin, unlike Type 1, the body do not respond to it as effectively as before. While type 2 diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people, it is possible to prevent the onset of the disease with proper management. Gestational diabetes Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you have had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes. Other types of diabetes Less common types include monogenic diabetes, which is an inherited form of diabetes, and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

Key Facts

The global diabetes prevalence in 2019 is estimated to be 9.3% (463 million people), rising to 10.2% (578 million) by 2030 and 10.9% (700 million) by 2045 [1]. In Singapore, diabetes was the fourth and eighth most common condition of polyclinic attendances and hospitalisation respectively in 2014[2]. Life years lost due to mortality and ill-health related to diabetes was the fourth largest among all diseases in 2010[3]. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.

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