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Small Diabetes FAQ

What are the causes of diabetes?

The following factors increase the risk of developing diabetes:

About the causes of Diabetes 1 we currently don't know much, altough it seems that there might be a genetic factor to it.

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Is diabetes infectious?

You cannot get diabetes through contact with people who have diabetes, nor by having intercourse with them, sharing food or exchanging blood.

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Can eating a lot of sugar cause diabetes?

But eating a lot of sugar can cause overweight, which in turn can cause diabetes.

Can diabetics have sugar?

In the past it was believed that sugar had a different effect than other carbohydrates, and diabetics were advised to avoid sugar. Today we know that there is no difference between sugar and other carbohydrates, and therefore there is no special reason for diabetics to avoid sugar.

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Should diabetics eat special (so-called 'diabetic') food?

No. In modern diabetic practice it is not adviced to eat 'diabetic' food. It has no real benefit, tastes bad, is expensive, gives false security and often contains ingredients which are bad for your health.


Special diabetic foods: These are not recommended. They may contain more fat or energy than other foods and may be low in fibre.

Source: Diabetes care in General Practice, M. MacKinnon

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Can diabetics drink alcohol?

Yes. Altough alcohol can cause the blood glucose level to decrease, and it is therefore advised to consume some food while drinking alcohol, there are no special risk attached to alcohol for diabetics (other than the risks alcohol consumption might have in general, diabetic or not).

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Can diabetes be cured?

No. At the moment there is no cure for diabetes. Sometimes, in extreme cases, a pancreas or a kidney-pancreas transplant is performed, after which the diabetes is gone. Still, the patient generally remains on long-term immunosuppressive drugs and there is a possibility that the immune system will mount a host versus graft response against the transplanted organ. Technically such an operation is not a cure.

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What are the symptoms of diabetes?

They differ per person and situation, but common symptoms are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Going to the loo (for a wee) all the time – especially at night
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision or sudden vision changes
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Extreme hunger

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What should I do if I think I might have diabetes?

Go to your general practitioner to have yourself tested. Even when in doubt.

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Is diabetes deadly?

Type 1:: Untreated diabetes type 1 almost always leads to dead within 1 or 2 years.
Type 2:: Untreated diabetes type 2 might be deadly on the long term, but is doesn't have to be. You can even live very long with untreated diabetes 2, but you will propably get several nasty complications.


Diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates in 2002. This ranking is based on the 73,249 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death. According to death certificate reports, diabetes contributed to a total of 224,092 deaths.

Source: (PDF)

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

In type 1 diabetes no insuline is produced. In type 2 diabetes insuline is produced, but it does not work like it should. About 5% to 10% of diabetics have type 1. In some ways they are very different diseases.

(There is also a 3rd type of diabetes: Gestational Diabetes, which some women develop during pregnancy.)

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Type 2 diabetes is mild diabetes?

There is no such thing as mild or borderline diabetes. All diabetes is equally serious, and if not properly controlled can lead to serious complications.

Can a diabetic fast (abstaining from eating for some time)?

Yes. Muslims, christians, buddhists, etc. with diabetes can fast. But care must be taken, and you need to be aware of potential problems and risks. In general, diabetics should consider not to fast (According to Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), a diabetic Muslim is exempt from fasting).

How many people have diabetes?

According to the NDIC (National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse) and the American Diabetes Association, in 2005 in the USA 20.8 million people (7% percent of the population) had diabetes, of which 6.2 million people where undiagnosed.

According to Diabetes UK, in the UK there are 2.3 million people with diabetes and there are more than half a million people with diabetes who have the condition and do not know it.

In 2006, according to the World Health Organization, at least 180 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. The WHO estimates that by the year 2030, this number will be more than double.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes currently affects 246 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 380 million by 2025. In 2007, the five countries with the largest numbers of people with diabetes are:

  • India (40.9 million)
  • China (39.8 million)
  • the United States (19.2 million)
  • Russia (9.6 million)
  • Germany (7.4 million).

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