November is National Diabetes Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes and its impact on millions of lives worldwide. In England alone, there are over 3.8 million people with diabetes1.
The theme of National Diabetes Month this year, as organised by the International Diabetes Federation is ‘know your risk, Know your response’, focusing on the importance of knowing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes to delay or prevent the condition2. For this awareness month, we want to increase understanding of the two different types of diabetes and one of the most common side effects that the different variants share.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes (T1D), often referred to as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease. This means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Around 8% of people in the UK living with diabetes have type 1 diabetes3. One of the key features of type 1 diabetes is that it will most often develop in childhood or adolescence but can occur at any age. Around 58% of type 1 diabetes diagnoses were made when individuals were aged under 304. Diabetic patients with type 1 diabetes are also entirely dependent on insulin injections or an insulin pump to regulate their blood sugar levels.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is often associated with lifestyle and genetic factors. In this condition, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects. Around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, the remaining 2% have rarer diabetes types3.
Diabetes UK estimates that more than 2.4 million people in the country are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes based on their blood sugar levels; they further estimate that around 850,000 people are living with the condition but have not been diagnosed3.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in adults but is increasingly affecting children and adolescents due to rising obesity rates. In 2016/217 alone over 6,800 children and young adults in England and Wales have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes5.
In some cases, people living with type 2 diabetes may also require insulin to manage their disease as the condition progresses,. Type 2, however, is largely a preventable condition unlike its autoimmune counterpart, lifestyle modifications when implemented during prediabetes can delay or prevent a diagnosis of T2D.
Most Common Side Effects of Diabetes
Something that the two variants of diabetes have in common is one of the most frequent side effects: diabetic neuropathy. It’s estimated that as many as 51% of people living with diabetes will develop diabetic neuropathy6. This side effect occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves, typically in the feet and hands. It causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the affected areas, also impacting muscle strength and coordination.
One of the main ways of treating diabetic neuropathy is by treating underlying causes or symptoms. For example, for those living with type 2 diabetes maintaining a healthy weight may help improve their neuropathy symptoms. Often, however, it’s not always possible to treat the underlying causes, leaving patients with options such as powerful steroids or immunosuppressants (medicines that reduce the activity of the immune system). Unlike other common pain conditions, neuropathic pain does not usually respond to common painkillers, so stronger medicines are sometimes prescribed which can cause unwanted side effects.
MAC Clinical Research understand that there is an unmet need for improved treatments for diabetic neuropathy, new treatments are developed through clinical trials. MAC Clinical Research are looking for people that would like to take part in a new diabetic neuropathy clinical trial. To be eligible for the clinical trial you must:
- Be aged 18 to 75.
- Have a BMI of 18 to 40kg/m2.
- Have a diagnosis of type I or type II diabetes.
- Have neuropathy symmetrically in the feet or legs that has been present for six months or more and is due to diabetes.
Other eligibility criteria will apply.
If eligible, you can receive up to £1050 plus reasonable travel expenses. For more information and to register your interest, visit MAC’s diabetic neuropathy research page.
1 Public Health England – Diabetes Prevalence Model
2 International Diabetes Federation – 70 days to World Diabetes Day!
3 Diabetes UK – How many people in the UK have diabetes?
4 Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology – Frequency and phenotype of type 1 diabetes in the first six decades of life: a cross-sectional, genetically stratified survival analysis from UK Biobank
5 Diabetes UK – Nearly 7,000 children and young adults with type 2 diabetes
6 Current Diabetes Reports – Epidemiology of Peripheral Neuropathy and Lower Extremity Disease in Diabetes