There are many resources available to help you find out more about your condition. Ask your healthcare professional if you need more information or have further questions.
Many people with diabetes can experience one or more symptoms, including extreme thirst or hunger, a frequent need to urinate and/or fatigue. Some lose weight without trying. Some people with diabetes, however, have no symptoms at all.1
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but usually appears before the age of 40, often during teenage years.2 Type 2 diabetes usually appears in middle-aged or older people, although more frequently it is being diagnosed in younger overweight people, and it is known to affect people from BAME (black, asian, and minority ethnic) backgrounds at a younger age.3
There are 3.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 549,000 people who have the condition, but don’t know it.4
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of adults have type 2 diabetes.1
Diabetes can be a very serious disease – people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of health problems. Poorly managed diabetes can make you go blind or lose a limb, cause your kidneys to fail or trigger a heart attack or stroke.3
Kidney disease is more common in people with diabetes, with three in four people with diabetes developing some stage of kidney disease during their lifetime with the condition, and with nearly one in five developing overt kidney disease which may need treatment.3
Diabetes patients are more likely to develop retinopathy, which affects the part of the eye that you use to see.3
If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to eat healthily, take regular exercise and carry out regular blood tests to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced.1
Use a BMI healthy weight calculator to check whether you’re a healthy weight.1
If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it’s important that you visit your GP who will closely monitor your condition to identify any health problems that may occur. If there are any problems, you may be referred to a hospital-based diabetes care team.5
Diet – increasing the amount of fibre in your diet and reducing your sugar and fat intake, particularly saturated fat, can help manage your condition.5
Weight – if you’re overweight – i.e. have a BMI of 30 or over – you should try to lose weight by gradually reducing your calorie intake and becoming more physically active. Losing 5-10% of your overall body weight over the course of a year could be a realistic initial target.5 Speak to your healthcare professional to agree a realistic weight management plan for you.
Physical activity – being physically active is very important in managing type 2 diabetes.
For adults who are 19-64 years of age, the NHS recommends a minimum of:5
An alternative recommendation is to do a minimum of:
Highs and lows occur when blood glucose of a person with diabetes climbs too high or falls too low. This can affect your mood and how well you feel. As you may already know, there are several factors you should pay attention to that can cause changes in blood glucose such as diet, physical activity and your medications. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, please contact your healthcare professional.
For a comprehensive list of symptoms, visit Diabetes UK at https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/Diabetes-Symptoms/
When your blood glucose levels are too high you may experience hyperglycaemia. This is when your blood glucose levels are above 7mmol/l before a meal and above 8.5mmol/l two hours after a meal. There are several reasons why this may happen:
When you’ve got high blood glucose, your symptoms may include:
When your blood glucose levels are too low you may experience hypoglycaemia, known as hypos. This is when your blood glucose levels are less than 4mmol/l. There are several reasons why this may happen:6
When you’ve got low blood glucose, your symptoms may include:6
If you’re experiencing frequent changes in your blood glucose that are outside of your agreed range, talk to your healthcare professional. Many factors can affect blood glucose levels, such as diet, physical activity and your medications, including insulins. There are also factors beyond your control such as illnesses, stress and changes in your daily routine. Fluctuations don’t necessarily mean you aren’t trying hard enough.
The Diabetes UK checklist can help you work with your healthcare professional to find options that are right for you.
1. NHK UK. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes/Pages/Diabetes.aspx. Accessed Oct 2016.
2. Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/What-is-Type-1-diabetes. Accessed Oct 2016.
3. Diabetes UK. Diabetes UK Facts and Stats report 2015. Accessed Oct 2016.
4. Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/. Accessed Oct 2016.
5. NHS UK. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Treatment.aspx. Accessed Oct 2016.
6. Diabetes UK. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Complications/Hypos-Hypers/. Accessed Oct 2016.
Complete the checklist for a better discussion with your healthcare professional