Over the last 20 years, the amount of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled to record numbers, with someone being diagnosed every two minutes.
There are currently 4.7million British people living with diabetes and more people than ever – 12.3million – are at risk of type 2 diabetes. Yet people still aren’t aware of the dangers of developing diabetes.
In Rotherham, the Be Diabetes Aware project is helping to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of diabetes and the help available locally to people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
Now in its second year, the project was commissioned by Rotherham CCG and is being delivered by the Social Movement in Health team at Voluntary Action Rotherham.
But what is Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition which affects the amount of sugar (or glucose) in our blood.
We all need glucose, it’s what gives us energy, but having diabetes means blood sugar levels are too high leaving you more at risk of developing secondary conditions and complications.
The hormone insulin, which is made in the pancreas, controls the amount of sugar in the blood. But those with Type 2 diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or their body does not use it well.
When you have Type 2 diabetes, your digestive system still breaks down carbohydrates from your food and drink and turns it into glucose. The pancreas responds to this by releasing insulin. But because this insulin can’t work properly, blood glucose levels keep rising, so more insulin is released.
For some people with Type 2 diabetes this can eventually tire the pancreas out, meaning their body makes less and less insulin. This causes even higher blood sugar levels.
About 90 percent of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, yet three in five cases could be prevented or delayed if lifestyle changes are made. This is primarily because obesity is responsible for 80 percent of cases. It is also a manageable condition and has the potential to be reversed by healthier eating, being more active and losing weight.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
- Being really thirsty
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Losing weight without trying
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts and wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
A lot of people don’t get any symptoms or they don’t notice them. Some people don’t think the symptoms are important so don’t ask for help. This means that some people live with Type 2 diabetes for up to ten years before being diagnosed. But as with many chronic conditions, early diagnosis is vital to protect your general health.
Over a long period of time, high sugar levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, eyes, feet and kidneys, leaving you more at risk of having a heart attack, stroke, sight loss, renal disease, amputation of the limbs, or mental health and depression. Complications such as these often begin five to six years before diagnosis so it is important to know your risk and watch out for early symptoms.
If you have any of symptoms of diabetes, you should contact your GP. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, but it’s worth checking.
- Risk increases with age – over 40 if you are white, or over 25 if you are African-Caribbean, Black-African or South Asian
- Family history of type 2 diabetes means you’re 6x more likely to develop it
- High blood pressure (past or present)
- Carrying extra weight, especially around your middle
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
Help and support available:
There are various health education courses available for people living with diabetes, some of which can be accessed online or arranged via your GP or health professional.
- DESMOND – Diabetes Education and Self Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed.
- BETTY – Better Eating for Type 2 and You.
- REMISSION – Lose up to 15kg over a 12-week period with guidance on nutritional intake.
- Healthier You – Support people at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
Further information on diabetes can be found at: – www.diabetes.org.uk
Follow the Be Diabetes Aware project on Facebook