Diabetes Week (10 - 16 June) is the annual highlight in the Diabetes UK calendar, designed to raise awareness and understanding of the condition.
Over the past 20 years, the number of people in the UK living with diabetes has risen from 1.4 million, to 3.8 million. If we take into account the likely number of those who are undiagnosed, the figure is well over 4 million, with increased prevalence only set to continue. From a global perspective, it is estimated that around 1 in 11 people now have the condition.
There are several factors driving this, from changing lifestyles, more accurate diagnosis, and the simple fact that we are living longer all contributing to these numbers. Yet even though diabetes is more common than ever before, there are many misconceptions associated with the condition, with a key objective of national Diabetes Week is to dispel such myths.
What is diabetes?
Type 1 - Type 1 diabetes, or childhood-onset, is characterised by insufficient insulin production and thus requires the daily administration of insulin. Of those in the UK who have diabetes, around 8% have this type, the root cause of which, is still not known to this day.
Type 2 - Type 2, or adult onset, constitutes the majority of those living with the condition and is a result of the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Whereas type I’s root causes are unknown, type 2 is largely the result of behavioural issues, such as body weight and physical inactivity. The symptoms between the two types are similar, however, Type 2’s impact tends to be less marked, often meaning diagnosis is a lot later, enabling complications to develop before diagnosis.
What are the symptoms?
Type 1 is often identified at a young age because it is sufficiently symptomatic, with increased thirst (polydipsia), urination (polyuria) and general weakness and discomfort (malaise) all tell tale signs of the condition. Type 2, however, is not usually picked up until it is tested for. Nevertheless, the symptoms outlined in type 1 are replicated here, with other issues such as sudden weight loss, or wounds taking longer to heal, also indicating the occurrence of diabetes.
How can it be managed?
Type 1 - A diabetes management plan will help people to manage their diabetes, enabling them to stay healthy and active. Such a plan will include the regular use of prescribed insulin, a balanced diet, with accurate carbohydrate counts, exercise and constant monitoring of their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 - With the right level of treatment and care, the effects of type ii diabetes can be managed, and even reversed. There are different ways of treating the condition, but the most common pathway will include healthier eating, exercise and weight loss. Most people will also need medication to bring their blood glucose down to a safer level.
How can we reduce the risk of diabetes?
If left untreated, diabetes boasts a whole host of nasty repercussions, from blindness to kidney failure. Yet while genetics, age and past behaviors all play their part, there are many actions we can all take to significantly reduce the risks associated with the condition:
- Avoid purified sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Make water your go-to beverage of choice
- Cut out cigarettes
- Make a significant effort to lose weight
- And finally, be sure to get tested annually!
What Doctorcall can do to help?
Doctorcall provides health screening and also a Diabetes Screen – Home Testing Kit. Also known as a HbA1c test, the Diabetes Home Testing Kit is for anyone concerned about diabetes. Using the latest technology, we can make an analysis from a single sample. This home testing kit is posted in a discrete, unmarked packet delivered by Royal Mail.