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Diabetes

What should you know about diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where a person is unable to control their blood sugar level, resulting in it becoming too high.

There are two main types of the condition:

  • Type 1 diabetes – where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin (the hormone that regulates sugar levels)
  • Type 2 diabetes  where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells don't react to insulin

 Type 2 is by far the most common type in the UK, affecting around 90 per cent of all adults with diabetes.

 In addition some pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, when their blood sugar levels rise to such an extent that they are unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it.


Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes put you at increased risk of:

What can you do to prevent it and improve your self-care?

If you...

  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. This will help control your blood glucose level, as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol. 
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in fat, salt and sugar.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke even further.
  • Get active for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. This helps you stay at a healthy weight and maintain good general health.

.... you will reduce your risk of developing diabetes as well as a range of other health problems, including cancer and heart disease.

What if you already have diabetes?

Diabetes doesn't have to stop you from leading the life you want, nor does it mean you'll necessarily have other serious health problems in the future – particularly if you manage your condition carefully.

There are many things you can do to minimise your risk of these problems.

The most important steps are ones you take to prevent or delay health complications associated with diabetes. These include: 

  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. This will help control your blood glucose level, as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol. 
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in fat, salt and sugar.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke even further.
  • Get active for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. This helps you stay at a healthy weight and maintain good general health.
  • Check your feet every day. The nerve damage that can occur in diabetes most commonly affects feet.
  • Ensure you attend your diabetes eye screening (diabetes retinopathy screening) annually.
  • Keep your appointments with your diabetes care team. Regular check-ups once every three to six months - depending on your level of diabetes control - with an annual review, are important parts of managing your diabetes.

Without taking these measures, you are putting yourself at an increased risk of health problems, which could force you to change your lifestyle entirely.

If you have been prescribed medication as part of your diabetes treatment it is essential that you take it as instructed, including the correct doses of insulin, if you are on this.


Key blood test results

The amount of sugar sticking to your red blood cells is reflected in your HbA1c blood test result. This measurement is the cornerstone of how good your diabetes control is. Your personal target should be discussed with your doctor or nurse.

Your cholesterol level should be at or below 4mmol/l when fasting.


DESMOND

There is a structured education programme available if you have just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) course is available in English and in Nepali.


Diabetes UK

The largest charity focused on diabetes research in the UK, providing guidance and support, whether you have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, whatever your age, or if you just want to know more about diabetes.

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/

Contact details for local sources of help.

Please see the contact details in the Lifestyle Matters pages of our website.


Diabetes UK

The largest charity focused on diabetes research in the UK, providing guidance and support, whether you have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, whatever your age, or if you just want to know more about diabetes.

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/

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