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Living with Diabetes – all you need to know

Whether is it a recent diagnosis or you are seeking more information about this condition – we have put together some information, advice and tips from doctors on living with diabetes.

First off, what is it?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high or too low.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is this hormone that’s job is to control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

What are the different types of Diabetes?

Type 1: This is when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.

Type 2: This is far more common than Type 1 diabetes. In this case, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to the insulin.

What symptoms can I expect with this condition?

Obviously, they vary according to each person but in general some of the signals associated with Diabetes include feeling very thirsty, urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night. You may feel very tired and have weight loss or reduced muscle tone. Other symptoms include itching around the genital area or frequent episodes of thrush, cuts that heal slowly or blurred vision.

 

How do I go about getting a diagnosis?

If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of diabetes, we advise you visit your doctor as soon as possible. They will discuss your fears and monitor your symptoms and may request blood and urine tests.

Who is more at risk for developing Diabetes?

You are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you are over 40 (over 25 for those with South Asian origin), if you have a close blood relative with diabetes, if you are overweight or obese and have a poor diet high in sugar.

I’ve been diagnosed. Now what?

Your doctor will talk you through a treatment plan depending on your individual symptoms. Generally, they will discuss what the condition means, what high blood sugar means for your health, what medication you may have to take, your diet and exercise as well as your lifestyle (alcohol intake, whether you smoke or not)

What medication is available?

Most of those who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will need medicine to control their condition. This keeps your blood sugar level as normal as possible to prevent health problems. You will have to take it for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, Diabetes usually gets worse over time so your medicine may need to be adjusted to continue to help you. Lifestyle changes when it comes to diet and exercise are also necessary to keep your blood sugar level under control.

Any advice for living with Diabetes?

One of the most important factors is making sure you have a healthy diet and that you remain active in order to help manage your blood sugar level. Doctors advise to keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum, eat a wide range of foods including fruit and vegetables as well as starchy foods like pasta. Make sure you don’t skip meals. You must have regular check-ups if you have Type 2 diabetes because it can lead to
• heart disease and stroke
• loss of feeling and pain (nerve damage) – causing problems with sex
• foot problems – like sores and infections
• vision loss and blindness
• miscarriage and stillbirth
• problems with your kidneys

Where else can I seek information or advice?

Often it can be really useful to talk to others who are living with and managing diabetes.
Diabetes.co.uk forum – discussions about living with and managing diabetes
Diabetes UK blogs – a collection of blogs on work and diabetes, food, eyes and more
Diabetes Chat – scheduled chats with healthcare professionals or just the chance to talk to others

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