DIABETES WEEK: What is the lifechanging condition?
It can affect anyone, of either sex, of any age, of any lifestyle, and it is worryingly turning into an epidemic.
It is diabetes.
During Diabetes Week (June 12-18), people are being urged to be aware of the two types of condition and the symptoms to look out for.
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune condition for which there are no known risk factors to developing the condition - that means it is not linked to lifestyle, however with Type 2 diabetes, there are factors that can put people at a higher risk of developing the condition - some that can’t be controlled such as age and ethnicity, but that there are also risk factors that can be including lifestyle and weight.
A staggering 235,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the last year, by the end of Diabetes Week 4,500 more people will have been diagnosed with the life-changing condition.
Stephen Ryan, Head of the North at Diabetes UK said: “There are now over four million people living with diabetes in the UK, in Sheffield alone the number of people diagnosed has risen by 2.8 per cent over the past three years, with 29,513 in the city now living with the condition.
“The fact that 4,500 more people will discover they have diabetes over the next seven days is deeply concerning, and highlights the current scale of the diabetes crisis.”
Despite the stark warning, the charity is also using the week to share many stories from people who live with diabetes but who do not let the condition hold them back.
One of those is Hannah Postles. Hannah, aged 31, of Parsons Cross, was diagnosed with Type 1 just four years ago.
A healthy, clean-living, woman it came as as a massive shock when she was told.
She explained: “I started getting blurred vision out of nowhere so went to the optician and the doctor, who did blood test, I went through months of waiting. I didn’t realise I had other symptoms but people had pointed out that I had lost quite a bit of weight, and I was thirsty all the time.
“It came as a big shock and it was a lot to take in that this was a condition I would have to manage for the rest of my life. It’s not like you take two tablets a day and that’s it. I have to inject insulin four times a day and have to monitor my blood sugar level and what I eat.”
It is a continual learning curve for Hannah, who narrowly escaped death when she fell seriously ill when her blood sugar levels soared two year ago, causing her body to become acidic and her organs to start to shut down.
But she gave the following advice to anyone who is diagnosed: “There are many misconceptions about diabetes, I always thought you couldn’t eat cake.
“It doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things that normal healthy people do. Five times Olympic gold medallist Steve Redgrave is diabetic.
“It’s just about trying to manage it effectively, and just about looking after yourself properly.
“It is a complicated condition so push for the medical support.”
South Yorkshire pharmacist Mark Sykes, who works at Weldricks, gave this advice: “Anyone with diabetes must understand that it is a condition that needs to be managed very carefully. If a person’s blood sugar is too high, even moderately so, for too long it will start to damage the blood vessels, nerves and organs.
“Heart disease and stroke are often made more likely by too much glucose in the blood as is nerve damage which is why we place great importance on foot and oral care in particular.
“At the end of the day, your pharmacist is on hand to help whenever you need it. We can make sure you are getting the best from your diabetes medications, offer advice and suggest products that can complement those medications to ensure you manage your condition in the best possible way.”
High profile supporters who are backing Diabetes Week include singer and stage star Alexandra Burke, who understands more than most how the condition can be misunderstood.
Alexandra’s mother has Type 2 diabetes and is on kidney dialysis as a result of her condition.
She said: “The biggest misconception I feel people have around Type 2 diabetes is that it can just be left and not treated.”
Throughout the week, the charity will be asking people to share their stories of living with diabetes.
To share your story or to get more information visit Diabetes
WHAT ARE THE FACTS:
* In the UK, there are 4 million people who have diabetes of which 549,000 people have Type 2 diabetes but don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed.
* There are an estimated 29,513 diagnosed with diabetes in Sheffield, approximately 2,951 of whom have Type 1 diabetes and 26,562 of whom have Type 2 diabetes.
* The prevalence of diabetes in Sheffield is 6.18 per cent.
* Diabetes costs the NHS nearly £10 billion.
* Diabetes currently accounts for 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget, 80 per cent of this spend going on managing potentially avoidable complications.
* Call 0345 1232399.