DOCTOR CALLING: BY Dr Kevin Shields
Diabetes affects over 8,500 people in South Lincolnshire, and it is estimated that this figure will increase further this year.
Nationally in 2010, there were approximately 3.1 million people aged 16 or over with diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed). By 2030, this figure is expected to rise to 4.6 million, with 90% of those affected having type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that around 850,000 people in England have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed.
Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes – sometimes known as prediabetes. If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes is increased.
It’s very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated. You should therefore visit your GP as soon as possible if you have symptoms such as:
* feeling very thirsty
* urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
* feeling very tired
* weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
* itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
* cuts or wounds that heal slowly
* blurred vision
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes affects about 10% of adults who have diabetes and usually develops before the age of 40. It is also the most common type of childhood diabetes. It is treated with daily injections of insulin. Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs over the age of 40 and can often be treated through diet and exercise, as well as medication. It is possible to prevent the onset of diabetes.
Some people have borderline results, and with a combination of diet and exercise, these prediabetes states can improve. Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.
There are some groups of people who are more at risk from developing diabetes and this includes a family history of diabetes, if you are overweight or if you have high blood pressure. Certain ethnic groups are also more likely to develop diabetes. Your GP is able to support your treatment and management of diabetes and will offer you regular clinic appointments, which are very important to keep.
If you are concerned that you have any of the symptoms mentioned, your local pharmacist or GP will be able to offer you a simple blood test to look at your sugar levels. If this is raised you can then be sent for further tests to see if you have diabetes and access the right level of treatment and support.
It is important to look after yourself when you have diabetes in order to help prevent further health complications.
You should especially take care of feet, eyes, kidneys and heart and keep regular check-ups your doctor can arrange for you. Most surgeries run clinics to support diabetes and are run by our nurses.