DIABETES cases have doubled over the past 15 years – but spotting the signs early can help prevent life-threatening complications.
Knowing your risk of developing the condition is one of the focuses of World Diabetes Day tomorrow.
Emma Elvin, deputy head of care at charity Diabetes UK, told Sun on Sunday Health: “Type 2 diabetes is when blood sugar levels are too high because your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or that insulin doesn’t work properly.”
The hormone insulin helps the body move glucose (blood sugar) from the blood into cells, where it is then used for energy.
Noticing the signs early can prevent people from becoming extremely unwell, by giving them access to the care they need to manage the condition.
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Symptoms include feeling more tired than usual, being extremely thirsty, losing weight without trying to, blurred vision, wounds and cuts taking longer to heal, and going to the toilet more, especially at night.
“Any of these alone can be an indicator and you should contact your GP,” warned Emma.
Of the 4.9million Brits living with diabetes, 850,000 may not yet even know they have it, predicts Diabetes UK.
Emma said: “It can be difficult to notice symptoms. People can live with Type 2 diabetes for up to ten years before they are diagnosed because the condition progresses more slowly than Type 1 diabetes. This puts people at risk of complications.”
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There are a further 13.6million people estimated to be living with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Family history makes you two to six times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, while people from black and Asian backgrounds are two to four times more likely to get it from age 25.
White people are typically more at risk aged 40 and over. The biggest changeable risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is obesity.
In England, living with obesity means you are five times more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than adults of a healthy weight.
Currently, nearly 90 per cent of people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight.
Patients can be diagnosed via blood tests and put on tablets or injectable medication to manage the condition.
Some diet and lifestyle changes can also help and may reduce the risk of complications.
Try switching to wholegrain carbohydrates, such as bread and rice, eating more fruit and vegetables and reducing red and processed meats, sugary foods and saturated fats.
In extreme cases, diabetes can lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, nerve damage and kidney disease.
For World Diabetes Day, long-standing partners Diabetes UK and Tesco have launched a campaign to get people to understand their risk of Type 2 diabetes by using the charity’s online Know Your Risk tool (riskscore.diabetes.org.uk) or by visiting a Tesco pharmacy.
Find your nearest at tesco.com or take an online assessment at tesco.com/pharmacy.
Type 1 has nothing to do with diet
TYPE 1 and Type 2 diabetes are different conditions and require different treatments.
Type 1, which affects around eight per cent of those with diabetes, is an autoimmune disease which sees the immune system attack and destroy the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
It leaves the body’s blood sugar level too high because there is not enough insulin to break it down into energy.
It is a lifelong condition which, unmanaged, can damage the heart, eyes, feet and kidneys.
The condition can be treated by putting insulin into the body through daily injections or with a drug pump.
Losing weight KO’d disease
EDWARD Morrison, 67, managed to put his Type 2 diabetes into remission after losing 4st and walking 100 miles a week.
The grandad had no symptoms, but a health check before his 55th birthday showed he had diabetes.
The retired oil company worker, from Forth Valley, was put on medication.
He said: “My father had Type 2 diabetes so I knew there was a chance I could develop it but didn’t know much about the condition until I went to the GP and was diagnosed.”
Edward was taken off his meds after four years and instead put on a Diabetes UK trial, which saw him change his diet, including drinking nutritional shakes and soups, and make huge lifestyle changes that got his weight down from 17st 7lb to 13st 4lb.
As a result, his diabetes has been in remission for six years.
He said: “I changed my lifestyle dramatically and use an app to record distance and activity.
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“I measure and weigh myself frequently, celebrate if it’s good and do something about it if it’s not.
“I feel far less fatigued and really fit and healthy. I struggle to think what would have happened had I not made those changes.”