Diabetes is one of the UK’s biggest health crises, and it’s on the rise. Public Health England estimates over 14,000 people age 16 years or older in Rochdale currently have diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) and this number could rise to rise to over 19,000 by 2035. Its impact and complications can be devastating, causing blindness, leading to amputations, even early death in some cases.
Despite these huge numbers, many people don't think diabetes will happen to them and they don’t know they may be at risk or they don’t understand and know what it is.
This year, NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG) is supporting leading charity Diabetes UK’s theme, and urging Rochdale residents to ‘Know Diabetes, Fight Diabetes’ during Diabetes Week, which is taking place from Sunday 11 June to Saturday 17 June.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. They are different conditions, caused by different things.
About 10% of people with diabetes have type 1, which means they can’t produce insulin. Type 1 is not preventable but there are things you can do to remain healthy (see ‘Fight diabetes’ information below).
People with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly. One of the biggest risk factors is being overweight; and age, ethnicity and family history can also have an impact.
Check your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by taking this quick and simple self-assessment test here.
Although there are no lifestyle changes that can lower your risk of type 1 diabetes, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing type 2.
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to reducing your risk of developing the condition. Eating healthily and exercising regularly not only reduces your risk of developing type 2 but can also help to manage all types of diabetes for those who are already diagnosed.
Read more about reducing risk of developing diabetes here.
The main symptoms of diabetes are:
- Urinating more often than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very tired
- Unexplained weight loss
- Frequent episodes of thrush
- Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- Blurred vision
The symptoms occur because some or all of the glucose stays in your blood and isn't used as fuel for energy. Your body tries to get rid of the excess glucose in your urine. They are common to both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes although the signs for type 1 develop very quickly, often over a few weeks.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, or at risk of developing the condition, making the right diet and lifestyle changes will make treating your diabetes easier and help to prevent further health problems developing.
Reduce your risk of developing further health complications as a result of diabetes by making these lifestyle changes:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
If your diet is well balanced, you should be able to achieve a good level of health and maintain a healthy weight. The important thing in managing diabetes through your diet is to eat regularly and include starchy carbohydrates, such as pasta, as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Taking regular exercise
People living with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke and kidney disease is another complication, usually associated with high blood pressure and diabetes. Exercise not only reduces your risk of heart disease but also lowers your blood glucose level.
If you have diabetes, your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke, is increased if you smoke.
Depending on the amount you drink, alcohol can cause either high or low blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia). Drinking alcohol may also affect your ability to carry out insulin treatment or blood glucose monitoring.
Checking your feet regularly
About one in ten people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer, which can cause a serious infection so it is important to check your feet regularly for cuts, blisters or grazes. Diabetes is associated with poor blood circulation in the feet, and blood glucose can damage the nerves so you may not be able to feel the nicks and cuts if the nerves in your feet are damaged. You should also have your feet examined at least once a year.
Going for regular eye tests
Diabetic retinopathy can occur if your blood glucose level is too high for a long period of time (hyperglycaemia). Lower your risk of developing serious eye problems or sight loss by going to eye screenings.
Visiting the dentist
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without diabetes, probably because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. Those people who don't have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.
Research has suggested that the relationship between diabetes and gum disease goes both ways - gum disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Severe gum disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications.
Reduce your risk of complications caused by gum disease by visiting your dentist regularly.
If you would like diabetes support or advice on ways you can make lifestyle changes these local services can help you:
- Living Well Rochdale The Big Life Group
- Link4Life – click on ‘Health and Wellbeing’
- Living Well Taking Control (GP referral only)
- Integrated Diabetes Service (GP referral only)
- Diabetes UK