Diabetes UK estimates there are 4.5 million people in the UK with Diabetes and a possible 1.1 million who have the condition but are undiagnosed. With the numbers rising rapidly it is thought by 2040 it will affect 1:10 of us. With that in mind, and the upcoming World Diabetes Day what better time to learn more?
So what is diabetes?
Diabetes is caused by the pancreas either being unable to make any insulin, referred to as type 1 or the body may not be able to make enough insulin, or the body simply cant respond to it. This is known as type two. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, although research is underway to try and find a cure. For type 2 you may be able to both control your symptoms, and get your diabetes into remission by focusing on your diet.
What are the symptoms?
There are a number of symptoms, in adulthood these may develop over months but in children the onset of symptoms can be far more rapid. They may include;
- Extreme tiredness
- Increased urination
- Severe thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Frequently hungry
- Dry, flaky skin
- Slow healing cuts
- Ongoing or frequent yeast infections (thrush)
- Inflamed genital areas
Please do not try and diagnose yourself, if these symptoms have made you concerned that you may have diabetes please consult your GP.
Why is diabetes so serious?
Simply put, your brain needs glucose (sugar) to work. Without this the brain has no energy and is unable to sustain life.
Are they any complications?
Diabetes is a serious condition and there are a number of conditions that may occur as a possible complication, if the condition is not managed correctly. Besides this list, if a hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) episode is left untreated there is a very real risk of death.
- Diabetic retinopathy (problems with your vision)
- Heart Disease including heart attack
- Erectile dysfunction (men) sexual dysfunction (women)
- Neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Kidney disease/renal failure
- Foot problems (could lead to amputations)
What does hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia mean?
Hypoglycaemia is when the blood sugar is too low. This is a serious situation and if left untreated the person may lose consciousness and could lead to coma or death.
Hyperglycaemia is when the person has too much glucose (blood sugar) in their system. Mild attacks which are infrequent, usually return to normal by themselves. However very high levels can lead into a far more life threatening situation called DKA- diabetic keytoacidosis.
How do you treat them?
Essentially someone who is having a hypoglycaemic attack needs a sugar substance such as fruit juice, a sugary drink, or dextrose tablets. This should then be followed up with something starchy such as a sandwich or some cereal.
If you are concerned about the person’s ability to swallow, please under no circumstances give them anything to eat or drink. Instead place them into the recovery position and call for an ambulance.
Someone in hyperglycaemia will be taught by their care team how to manage the symptoms but if they have gone in DKA will need emergency help and fast.
If you want to learn more about diabetes then why not complete our diabetes online course.