This week is diabetes awareness week and diabetes UK is running a campaign to dispel some of the myths that surround the disease. One such myth is that you can have a “touch of diabetes” when in reality anyone with diabetes has a progressive disease which can lead to significant health issues if the disease is not detected or well treated. 3.5 million people in the UK have a diagnosis of diabetes, in the last year, 235,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes and the charity estimate that a further 4,500 people will be diagnosed by the end of this week. These figures highlight the number of people affected by this disease and in turn the cost to the N.H.S of not only managing the disease but the complications that can arise. During this blog, we will look at what diabetes is, how it can affect your health and the signs and symptoms to look out for if you think you might have diabetes.
In order for our bodies to work correctly our cells require energy, we gain this energy from the food we eat, more specifically from the glucose in our food. Diabetes is the bodies inability to use this glucose effectively. The problems arise when insulin, the hormone required to manage glucose levels in the blood, is either absent, reduced or has become ineffective. Insulin is released by the organ called the pancreas. (see diagram above)
Diabetes can cause serious health issues if not well controlled or left untreated, these can include: heart disease, kidney disease, sight problems and problems with nerves causing reduced sensation especially in the feet. If diabetes is diagnosed early and well-controlled the risk of developing these conditions can be greatly reduced. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of diabetes early and assessing your risk of developing diabetes is therefore extremely beneficial.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes can include (but not limited too):
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination especially at night
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Cuts taking longer to heal
You can work out your risk of developing diabetes by visiting: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/Know-your-risk-of-Type-2-diabetes/