Non-communicable Diseases

Non-communicable diseases are long-term health conditions that do not spread from person to person. Instead, diseases tend to develop slowly over time and can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and the environment.

Some examples of non-communicable diseases include:

  • Coronary heart disease – a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrow or blocked. This can lead to a heart attack.
  • Cancer – a serious illness that happens when cells in the body grow out of control. These abnormal cells can spread to other parts of the body and cause damage.
  • Diabetes

Diabetes

One of the most common non-communicable diseases is diabetes. It is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects the way the body uses blood sugar (glucose).

People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin (a hormone that helps to control the amount of sugar in the blood) or their body doesn’t use it the right way. This can cause the level of sugar in the blood to get too high., which can damage the body’s organs.

The two main types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that helps to control the level of glucose in the blood by allowing cells to use glucose for energy and by helping the liver to store excess glucose.

Diagram that explains type 1 diabetes using images and text

This form of diabetes typically develops in children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections to manage blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes

In contrast, type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body does not react properly to insulin.

In people with type 2 diabetes, the body has a hard time using insulin or doesn’t make enough of it to keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. As a result, blood sugar levels become too high.

Diagram that explains type 2 diabetes using images and text

Type 2 diabetes is largely related to lifestyle factors, such as diet and lack of physical activity. It is the most common form of diabetes. Adults are most commonly diagnosed with it, but it is becoming more common in children and adolescents.

People with type 2 diabetes may be able to manage their blood sugar levels through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. However, they may eventually need to take medications or insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of diabetes

The symptoms of both types of diabetes can be similar and may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds

However, some symptoms may be more common in one type of diabetes compared to the other.

Treating diabetes

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, kidney disease, and blindness. These complications are caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the body’s organs and blood vessels.

People with diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing other non-communicable diseases, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

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