Worried about diabetes? Here’s what you need to know…
Diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions in the UK, and it can require people to use regular medication alongside changes to their diet and lifestyle. Here’s what you need to know…
Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when there is too much glucose – or blood sugar – in the blood stream. It is a result of the body being unable to process glucose properly.
If your blood sugar is consistently too high, it can increase the risk of a number of potentially serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and eye problems.
There are different types of diabetes; Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes, which is temporary and affects women during pregnancy.
According to Diabetes UK, there are almost 3.6 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK. It is estimated that a further 1 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
There is nothing that can be done to prevent Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It occurs when the immune system incorrectly targets and destroys the cells within the pancreas that produce insulin. Without insulin, the human body cannot move glucose from the bloodstream into its cells for conversion into energy. As well as causing cells to be deprived of energy, Type 1 diabetes leads to a build up of glucose in the bloodstream.
Patients with Type 1 diabetes require regular insulin treatment to maintain normal glucose levels. This is normally done by injection or using an insulin pump, which allows insulin to flow into the bloodstream at a rate controlled by the patient.
Type 2 diabetes tends to develop in later life and occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body builds up a resistance to the insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in people aged over 40, although it is also common in younger people of South Asian, African and African Caribbean descent.
Increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, prompting concerns about poor diet.
Some patients can control Type 2 diabetes through diet or exercise. However, it is possible that Type 2 diabetes patients will require medication. Drug treatments for Type 2 diabetes work in different ways, with some stimulating insulin production and others helping to maintain a healthy level of glucose in the bloodstream. The drug most commonly used to treat Type 2 diabetes in England is Metformin Hydrochloride, which helps to improve blood sugar control.
Common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include excessive thirst and hunger, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, tiredness, frequently needing to urinate and sores or cuts that won’t heal.
Your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is five times higher if you are overweight. However, genetics is also a factor. The children of parents with Type 2 diabetes have a one in three chance of developing the condition.
You can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by exercising regularly, managing your weight, limiting alcohol intake, stopping smoking, avoiding processed foods and takeaways, and eating a balanced diet.
Speak to your GP if you are concerned about diabetes or want help in managing the condition.
This article is by Dr Alexandra Phelan is a working NHS GP and Online Doctor with Pharmacy2U. Visit www.pharmacy2u.co.uk for further information.