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What is Diabetes?

Posted by [email protected] on September 23, 2015 at 8:00 PM

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Diabetes is a medical condition in which the blood glucose levels remain persistently higher than normal. It is becoming more common in Singapore. This may be due in part to ageing population, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise.


Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows your body cells to use blood glucose (sugar) for energy. Food is converted into glucose before it is absorbed into our bloodstream. The pancreas then releases insulin to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the body cells for use or storage. People with diabetes are unable to fully use the glucose in their bloodstream due to:

  • lack of insulin in the body
  • insulin is ineffective 

There are three major types of diabetes:


Type 1 Diabetes

  • no insulin is produced due to damaged pancreatic cells
  • usually diagnosed in children or young adults although it can occur at any age
  • insulin is needed for treatment
  • complications are sudden and life-threatening 

Type 2 Diabetes 

  • insulin produced is not enough or not effective (insulin resistance)
  • occurs more frequently in people over 40 years old, particularly those who are overweight and physically inactive
  • more younger adults and children are developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • can be controlled with proper diet and exercise but most diabetics also need oral medication


Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) 

  • Occurs in about 2-5% of all pregnancies. Women who were not diagnosed to have diabetes previously show high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.
  • needs specialised obstetric care to reduce serious complications to the unborn baby 

Signs & symptoms

The common symptoms of diabetes are: 

  • frequent thirst despite drinking lots of water
  • constant hunger
  • constant tiredness
  • itchy skin especially around the genital area
  • passing excessive urine during day and night
  • weight loss despite good appetite
  • poor healing of cuts and wounds



Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) and low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia).Both situations can cause a diabetic to become very sick very quickly and even go into a coma.


The long-term complications of diabetes include:

  • coronary heart disease such as angina, heart attack
  • stroke
  • eye disease
  • kidney disease
  • foot disease such as numbness, ulcers and even gangrene
  • nerve disease which can lead to problems such as impotence and diarrhoea


Screening & diagnosis

Diabetes can be detected through a blood glucose test.

Readings in mmol/L:

Normal Random Blood Glucose is less than 7.8 mmol/L

Normal Fasting Blood Glucose is 6.0 mmol/L or less 

You have diabetes mellitus if your 

Random Blood Glucose is 11.1 mmol/L or higher

Fasting Blood Glucose is 7.0 mmol/L or higher

Readings in mg/dL:

A Normal Blood Sugar Level (two hours after eating) is less than 140 mg/dL

A Normal Fasting (no food for eight hours) Blood Sugar Level is between 70 and 99 mg/dL

Diabetes is diagnosed by any one of the following: 

Random Blood Glucose that is greater than 200 mg/dL

Two consecutive fasting Blood Glucose tests that are equal to or greater than 126 mg/dL

See Testimonials on Diabetes Here.

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