The month of November is Diabetes Awareness month therefore we are going to explore this topic today!
This year’s main focus is on youths who have diabetes (NIDDK)
Ways in which we can get involved this year is by using hashtag #TheBigPicture on social media platforms, joining the diabetes community by signing up to a free enewsletter and donating online (Diabetes UK).
Types of diabetes
Many patients we see in clinic have diabetes, we tend to see type 2 more commonly than type 1 and this condition can affect people of a variety of ages.
Let’s clarify the difference between type one and type two Diabetes (NHS UK):
- Type 1 is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cells that produce insulin
- Type 2 is where the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not react to insulin
There is also gestational which is where pregnant women develop high blood glucose levels and their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it (NHS UK).
We also see a lot of patients in clinic that fall under the term ‘prediabetic’ which generally means that their blood sugars are higher than usual and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There are many ways in which you could adapt your lifestyle to help reduce the likelihood of diabetes including: weight management through being active and eating a healthy and balanced diet.
Type 2 diabetes can generally be controlled with diet, exercise and not smoking however, type 1 cannot unfortunately be avoided with lifestyle changes (NHS UK).
Type 2 diabetic patients are generally recommended to carry out daily exercise, including both aerobic and resistance training to enhance insulin action. (Colberg.SR et al 2016)
Although people with type 1 diabetes can benefit from being physically active, additional carbohydrate intake and/or insulin reductions are typically required to maintain glycemic balance in and after physical activity. Frequent blood glucose checks are required to implement carbohydrate intake and insulin dose adjustments. (Colberg.S et al. 2016)
Some of the patients that we treat in clinic present with long term complications of diabetes including eye problems affecting vision, nerve damage (especially in your feet) which can sometimes lead to amputation. Shorter term complications can include Hypos, whereby your blood sugar levels are too low and Hypers where your blood sugar levels are too high.
Mental health and diabetes
There is no doubt that a diagnosis of diabetes comes easy to anybody, in fact according to Diabetes UK, as many as 40% of people with diabetes said they have struggled with their psychological wellbeing after being diagnosed (Diabetes UK). This is difficult enough in itself, but to then have the positive mindset and motivation to possibly stop smoking, be more active, eat healthier, adapt to new medications and routines can be very challenging and exhausting for some. There are many mental health organisations that you can contact to provide you with psychological support including: Samaritans, Diabetes UK helpline, MIND and Mental Health Foundation. But please, if you find yourself in a crisis or emergency, ring 112 or 999. Other techniques that may also help are: talking to friends and family about your emotions, feelings and worries, getting in contact with other people who have been diagnosed with diabetes (so you can relate and understand each other), be kind to yourself by allowing rest and breaks and setting realistic, achievable goals that will positively impact your life.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes
If you think you may have diabetes, you should book in with your GP for diagnostic testing. According to Diabetes UK, some of the common signs and symptoms include:
- Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
- Frequently feeling thirsty
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Losing weight without trying to
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
- Blurred vision
Thank you for taking the time to read our November 2020 blog focussing on Diabetes Awareness – we hope to see you again next month!
Written by Georgia Smith on 8/11/2020
References (all accessed November 2020)
4.Sheri R. Colberg,, Ronald J. Sigal2, Jane E. Yardley3, Michael C. Riddell4, David W. Dunstan5, Paddy C. Dempsey5, Edward S. Horton6, Kristin Castorino7 and Deborah F. Tate (2016), Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association, 39(11): 2065-2079, https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/11/2065, accessed 8/10/2020