A large number of people in the United Kingdom have diabetes (recent estimates are over 2.3 million) and this number is growing. Between 85% and 95% of Diabetics are Type 2 and over 3% of the UK population are known diabetics, with a further 1% who probably don’t know they are Diabetics.
There is currently a national programme between doctors, health centres and pharmacists to review and diagnose those with early symptoms, by doing this it allows people to become more aware and perhaps make any necessary lifestyle changes that could potentially reverse any early onset of diabetes.
If diabetes isn't treated, it can cause long-term health problems as the high glucose levels in the blood can damage other parts of your body. If you've been recently diagnosed, seek professional advice to find out the different ranges of treatment and support available
Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to keep blood glucose levels witihin a normal range, either because the pancreas cannot produce sufficient insulin (type 1 Diabetes) or because cells have become insulin resistant,( Type 2 Diabetes) Glucose which cannot enter the cells then builds up in the bloodstream.
A way to reach a better understanding of the problems Diabetes can cause within the blood stream is to think of it like a gluey sugary solution of blood. This Glueyness means that the blood can get stuck when it gets into blood vessels (notoriously those in your feet and eyes). When the blood gets stuck it clots; resulting in that part of the body becoming damaged due to lack of blood and oxygen reaching the muscles and organs.
If the blood gets trapped in large vessels (especially when combined with high cholesterol and high blood pressure) you are at risk from heart attacks, heart failure (cardiovascular Disease) and strokes.
Being diagnosed with Diabetes can be scary and overwhelming as it is a chronic disease (meaning once your diagnosed it is there for life) however with the correct support and management Diabetic sufferers can and do lead a normal healthy & active lifestyle. Your doctors and nurses can help guide you in the right direction.
Diabetes (or more properly diabetes mellitus) is a condition in which a person has a high blood sugar (glucose) level. There are 2 types:
, where a person develops cells that damage the pancreas (the organ that produces insulin to reduce sugar in the blood) and so cannot manage their own blood sugar.
, where a person becomes resistant to insulin usually linked to increased weight and decreased levels of exercise.
Controlling blood sugar levels reduces the risks of damage to organs. Serious diabetic eye disease can be reduced by 23% and early kidney disease can be reduced by 33%. Controlling blood pressure reduces the risks from long-term disease significantly Heart attacks by 33%, Stroke by 30% and Blindness by 33%.
What Causes Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, is often linked with lifestyle factors (although genes do play an important role) and normally becomes apparent in later life.
A number of lifestyle factors have been proved to increase your risk of type 2 Diabetes these include, lack of exercise, poor diet (due to increasing body weight and causing obesity) excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. Those who have high levels of exercise, healthy diet and do not smoke are less likely to have type 2 diabetes by around 80%.
By paying attention to food labeling and cooking fresh food it will be easier to control what you eat and in turn manage your blood sugar.
As a rough simple guide good for you foods are lean meat, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables. And Bad for you foods are high fat foods, sugars and processed carbohydrates. Anything you can do to increase your level of exercise will help to control your diabetes as your muscles will use glucose therefore removing it from your blood. All exercise is good for you whether it’s swimming going to the gym or just taking the stairs instead of the lift or perhaps walking instead of driving, whatever you do by increasing your rate of activity, this will help delay the progression of complications and can reduce the risk of their development.
There is a wide range of medications that can be suitable for Diabetic sufferers these range from oral tablets to injectable insulin. Everybody is different and treatment changes from person to person therefore to get the correct treatment for you, professional medical advice must be sought from your doctor. To get the most from your treatment is it important you know how it works and you must never feel nervous about asking questions or querying your treatment.
There are plenty of places to find out more about diabetes however always be sure to use a reputable source, Diabetes UK have lots of information as do the NHS websites. Your healthcare professional will be able to answer any questions you have.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Glucose levels before meals 4-7mmol/l
Glcose levels 2 hours after meals less than 9mmol/l
Type 2 Diabetes:
Glucose levels before meals 4-7mmol/l
Glucose levels 2 hours after meals less than 8.5mmol/l
Short Term Complications:
Hypoglucaemia (or hypo) means low blood glucose levels (less than 4mmol/l) hypos can happens when diabetes is treated with insulin and/or with some diabetes medication. Hypos should be treated immediately, if they are not treated a person can become unconscious.
Reasons for hypos can include any of the following:
Too much insulin or medication
Delayed or missed meal
Unplanned or strenuous activity
Too much alcohol or drinking alcohol without food
Warning signs include:
Immediately take or give a short acting carbohydrate for example a sugary drink (lucozade, coca-cola)
Follow this with a longer acting carbohydrate i.e a bowl of cereal or a sandwich
You should then check your blood glucose to ensure your blood glucose level has returned to normal.
Hyperglycaemia (hyper) means having high blood glucose levels. Consistently high blood glucose levels left untreated can lead to a dangerous condition called diabetic ketoacidiosis in people with Type 1 Diabetes.
The intial and most common symptoms of raised blood glucose levels include passing more urine and feeling thirsty which can lead to dehydration.
If left untreated symptoms will progress and can include nausea, vomiting and drowsiness and eventual unconsciousness.
With Type 1 Diabetes if blood glucose levels are 15mmol/l or more you should test your blood and urine for ketones. If ketones are found seek professional advice from your general practice or go to your nearest accident and emergency.
In type 2 diabetics, Diabetic ketoacidosis is very rare, but severe dehydration and very high blood glucose levels can mean emergency treatment in hospital is needed.