Diabetes is a disease that affects over 4 million people in the UK alone. Sometimes, people don’t even realize they have diabetes until they have a hypo, and they visit their GP to find out what’s going on. Sometimes they’re visiting their GP for other reasons and their diabetes shows up in a blood test.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Lack of energy
Increased urination, especially at night
Scrapes, cuts or spots that take longer than normal to heal
Feeling hungry all of the time
How is diabetes diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s wise to go and speak to your GP, who will arrange an hBa1c blood test for you. This will measure the glucose in your blood, and when your results come in, your Doctor will be able to confirm whether or not you have diabetes.
Depending on how high your blood sugar levels are, the Doctor will also be able to determine whether you have type 1 or type 2. This needs to be confirmed to determine whether or not you will have to take medication, inject insulin, or have a massive change in lifestyle.
If you GP is recommending that you change your diet and lifestyle, then it’s likely that you have pre-diabetes. Ask your Doctor to confirm this. If it is the case, you have a chance of reversing it and living your life free of the disease.
Will I have to change my lifestyle?
In short, yes. Even if you are put on medication for your diabetes, you will need to make some changes to your lifestyle. Swapping fizzy drinks for juices and water and cutting out food that has a high sugar content would be a good place to start.
If you choose to ignore the chance to change your lifestyle choices, you could find yourself having regular hypos. In some cases, they can be life threatening.
You can also expect to visit your Doctor every six months or so. This is because you will be invited in to check your blood sugar level and then have a consultation with either your Doctor or a trained nurse to talk through your results. They can then decide whether you need to change your dose of medication. They will also give you advice on how you can improve the current state of your diabetes.
Who gets diabetes?
Anyone can get the disease. Having diabetes is a scary thought for anyone, and unfortunately, many of us will get the disease at some point in our lives. Normally though, people tend to get the disease after the age of 45. There are some circumstances that could mean you will get it earlier in life. These are:
Pregnant (gestational diabetes)
It’s hereditary in some families
If you have high blood pressure and low good cholesterol, this can turn into diabetes too.
What else can I expect?
You will also be invited once a year to have your eyes screened at your closest retinopathy center. This is because diabetes is known for damaging the retina in your eyes, which can lead to the loss of your sight. Attending these appointments are essential, and shouldn’t be something that you just shrug off.
You can also expect to receive letters in the post inviting you to attend sessions aimed at supporting people with diabetes. Although these aren’t essential, it’s a good idea to attend at least one to see if you take any useful information away.
Is there anything I can do to help prevent getting diabetes?
Luckily, there are some things that you can do to help prevent you from getting the disease. These are:
Maintaining a healthy weight for your height (BMI)
Ensuring that you’re getting enough good cholesterol
Reducing the amount of sugar you consume
Diabetes doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds, as long as you take care of yourself (even if you have the disease), then you can still lead a very long life.