Diabetes – recognise the symptoms and take action!

June 25 2021   |   News

Numbers of people with diabetes in the UK are on the rise – with a projected 5.3 million expected to be living with the condition within the next four years.

Some 90% of these people will have Type 2 diabetes – a condition which means you are 50% more likely to die prematurely and one which more than a million people are living with and don’t even know it!

Those are the hard facts but, although diabetes is a life-long condition, it can be treated and kept under control with the right treatments and a tweaking of lifestyle options. Here are five often asked questions and our answers. We hope you find it helpful:

What is diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is more common than Type 1 but, although it may be the milder of the two, it can still cause major health problems. Diabetes causes the level of sugar, glucose, in your blood to become too high, creating symptoms of:

  • Tiredness
  • The need to urinate more frequently
  • Excessive thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Unintentional weight loss 
  • Itching of the private parts
  • Cuts taking longer to heal

What does high blood sugar mean for health?

Having a high blood sugar level is known as hyperglycaemia. Regular high blood sugar levels can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and the eyes. It is often linked to being overweight, inactive or having a family history of diabetes.

Do I need to take medicine?

There are a number of different medicines available to treat Type 2 diabetes and it may take a little time to work out exactly what treatment is best suited for you. Most people with Type 2 diabetes will need medicine to control blood sugar levels.

Diabetes usually gets worse over time which may require changes to prescribed doses.

Is a change to diet and exercise necessary?

Yes! Keeping active and employing a healthy diet will help lower your blood sugar level, control your weight and make you feel a whole lot better into the bargain. 

Keep your sugar, salt and fat intake to a minimum, don’t skip meals and eat the right foods, such as vegetables, fruits and some starchy foods like pasta.

Your healthcare professional will advise you on what food is best for your health and what should be avoided. It’s always good to remember that any changes you make should be made gradually – small steps mean it is more likely that you will be able to stick to your diet.

Regular exercise is another way to keep your blood sugar level in check and you should aim for a minimum of between two and three hours every week. The more exercise the better but, again, don’t set yourself too high a target to start with if you haven’t been used to taking exercise.

Do I need to consider other lifestyle changes?

Two major things to consider are smoking and alcohol. Smokers are between 30 and 40% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and nicotine can lessen the effectiveness of insulin – a treatment used to regulate blood sugar levels.

With regards to alcohol, much the same rules apply to diabetics as everyone else. Drink in moderation within the recognised guidelines for men and women.

Steps to take if you think there’s a problem

Type 2 diabetes is often identified in blood and urine tests which may well have been ordered for something unrelated. If you have any of the symptoms you need to contact a GP straight away before the possibility of the condition worsens. 

Another good safeguard is to have regular health screenings through Summerfield Healthcare. We carry out finger prick tests for blood sugars in every health check – whether that be Advanced, Premium, Gold Well Man and Well Woman, and Platinum Well Man and Well Woman, meaning diabetic tests are covered as standard in all our health checks.