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  • Writer's pictureRichard Kadri-Langford

Is diabetes a condition or a disease?

To begin with, let's ask the question, "What is diabetes?

Diabetes, as most people may all know is a chronic healthcare challenge faced by many people and is characterised by the body not producing a sufficient amount of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, resulting in potentially dangerously low or high blood sugar levels. Constant high blood sugar levels can lead to an array of serious health issues, such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage and eye complications.

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes, and all require efficient management, including exercising, eating healthy and keeping a track of your blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.[1]

According to the NHS website, diabetes is "a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high" [2]. Diabetes can sometimes be controlled through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle however if an individual has type 1 diabetes, lifelong insulin replacement is necessary.

Diabetes is becoming so prevalent worldwide that according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it is predicted that by 2040 half a billion people will have diabetes. [3]

Pre-diabetes is also becoming increasingly prevalent today and occurs when an individual is seen as vulnerable to developing it due to having higher blood sugar levels than normal but not high enough for the individual to be diagnosed with diabetes. So diabetes is becoming an everyday aspect of people’s lives that they are willingly accepting due to its incurability and prevention.

Research from experts at Mayo Clinic, diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar (glucose) [4]. However, calling it a disease makes it a disorder of a human function or structure, with possibilities of it being curable or possible recovery from it.

Diabetes can be classified as a disease since during pregnancy some women develop diabetes as they appear to have higher blood sugar levels, however, after birth, diabetes usually recovers itself. This type of diabetes is referred to as gestational diabetes. The temporary characteristics of gestational diabetes contradict the typical definition of diabetes as being a chronic healthcare challenge.

Having any sort of disease is a type of condition whether long-term or short-term. Therefore, differentiating between whether diabetes is a disease or a condition, can cause debate due to some people perceiving it as a condition and some as a disease, simply based on their own experiences. For example for some people Type 1 diabetes as a condition seems something lifelong, whereas for others gestational diabetes might just be a disease due to its usual temporary presence and sudden disappearance after birth.

What do you think?

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