1 Defining diabetes
This course introduces the parts of the body and processes involved in the development of diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar but distinct conditions and, for doctors, it is not always easy to decide which type of diabetes someone has. Does this matter, and is one type of diabetes worse than the other? There are many misconceptions about diabetes among health care professionals and the population in general. We hope this course will help you to explore and clarify your ideas about diabetes, starting with Activity 1.
Activity 1: Defining diabetes
Read Case study 1 and then think about the following questions. If you were Princess Rodgers' GP how would you explain diabetes to her? Make notes about how you would define diabetes. Do you know of different types of diabetes? Is one form more serious than another? If so, why?
Keep your notes safely so you can use them to compare what you think now with your understanding later in this course.
Case study 1
Mrs Princess Rodgers was born in Jamaica but has lived in England for the last 50 years. She is now 55 years old and visited her GP last week seeking treatment for thrush. She returns a week later because it is no better. At her original visit the GP took the opportunity to take a number of blood tests, including a test for her blood glucose. On her return visit Mrs Rodgers is told that one of the tests has indicated that she has diabetes.
Mrs Rodgers suddenly feels very guilty about the four teaspoons of sugar she puts in her tea and is sure that that is why her diabetes has occurred. She is no longer listening to the GP but thinking about stopping the sugar, as she is sure this will cure her diabetes. She decides that she must have the mild kind like her granny who lived to be 84 years old.
Princess Rodgers will be experiencing many emotions while being told about her diabetes, so it is important that the GP explains clearly to make sure she takes it in. He might need to go over his explanation more than once. It is important to spend time thinking about how you would define diabetes if you were asked to explain it to somebody, as this will help you to identify areas that you are uncertain about. It will also help you to understand that others will also have uncertainties about what diabetes is. There are many people like Mrs Rodgers who have misconceptions about the condition.