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Health Matters - Preventing diabetes

Health Matters - Preventing diabetes
07 November 2018

Katie Mills RGN, clinical lead for diabetes at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG

Diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high. There are two main types, Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions but they’re both serious.

What all types of diabetes have in common is that they cause people to have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood. But we all need some glucose. It’s what gives us our energy. We get glucose when our bodies break down the carbohydrates that we eat or drink. And that glucose is released into our blood. We also need a hormone called insulin. It’s made by our pancreas, and it’s insulin that allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies. If you don’t have diabetes, your pancreas senses when glucose has entered your bloodstream and releases the right amount of insulin, so the glucose can get into your cells. But if you have diabetes, this system doesn’t work.

When you’ve got Type 1 diabetes, you can’t make any insulin at all. If you’ve got Type 2 diabetes, it’s a bit different. The insulin you make either can’t work effectively or you can’t produce enough of it. In both types of diabetes, because glucose can’t get into your cells, it begins to build up in your blood. And too much glucose in your blood causes a lot of different problems.

To begin with it leads to diabetes symptoms, like having to wee a lot, being incredibly thirsty, and feeling very tired. You may also lose weight, get infections like thrush or suffer from slow-healing wounds. Over a long period of time, high glucose levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, your eyes, your feet and your kidneys. These are known as the complications of diabetes.

But did you know that you can prevent or delay lots of these problems? They’re not inevitable.

If you are concerned you may be at risk you should make an appointment with your practice nurse or GP who will arrange blood tests. If you are found to be at risk of diabetes, known as pre-diabetes, you can be referred to the National Diabetes Prevention ProgrammeClick here to find out your risk score.

Keeping blood sugar, blood pressure and blood fats under control will help hugely to reduce your risk of developing complications. This means going to your diabetes health checks and knowing how to look after yourself between appointments.

With the right treatment and care, people can live a healthy life. And there's much less risk that someone will experience these complications. Click here to find out more about diabetes.