Thursday, April 7, 2016
Diabetes is a common life-long health condition that affects around 382 million people worldwide. According to Diabetes UK, this figure is set to rise to 592 million by 2035. Around 3.2 million people in the UK suffer from diabetes, and more than 600,000 are unaware that they suffer from this condition.
Due to these startling figures, The World Health Organisation are focusing World Health Day 2016 on diabetes, aiming to increase awareness of the rise in diabetes and its consequences.
In this article, we explore what this health condition is and take a look at the ways in which it can be controlled and managed.
Before we delve into effective ways to manage diabetes, firstly we need to understand what it is. There are two forms of this health condition, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes affects any age, but it is more common in children and young people - it occurs when your pancreas can’t make insulin.
Type 2 diabetes tends to affect older people and is more common - in this case, your pancreas can’t make sufficient insulin or body cells don’t react to insulin in the correct manner.
A healthy lifestyle is one of the key things needed to help keep diabetes at bay.
Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, but keeping your blood sugar levels controlled is the first step in being able to manage your health, whatever type of diabetes you have.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with the lifestyle choices you make, so by being proactive and leading a healthy lifestyle, you can keep your blood sugar low and reduce the risk of problems associated with diabetes, such as obesity.
Your diet has a major effect on your health and is a massive contributor to the onset of type 2 diabetes; eating a healthy balanced diet with low levels of fat and low levels of salt and exercising regularly lowers your glucose levels, which is a great help when it comes to managing your condition.
Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as does smoking, so quitting smoking means you’re reducing the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases occurring. It’s also advisable not to exceed the recommended amount of alcohol if you’re diabetic, or hope to delay the onset.
How to take control of your diabetes
If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, there is no cure, and the most efficient way to manage the condition is to control the symptoms. One way to take control and handle the situation is the same as trying to prevent it, by taking control of your glucose levels and keeping them as normal as possible by leading an active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet without foods high in fat.
Making sure you manage your blood sugar is a key way to control your diabetes which should be done regularly throughout the day. If you suffer from either form of diabetes, you may have to take medication to help control the condition.
Because your body fails to make the correct amount of insulin, you may have to give yourself insulin to prevent you from becoming unwell, especially if you have type 1 diabetes. You will be shown by a health professional how to correctly inject yourself, and a close family member or friend may be shown how to carry out the procedure in case you are unable to do it yourself. Insulin pump therapy is also effective - as it is attached to you by a tube and connected under the skin, so you won’t have to give yourself injections.
If you have type 2 diabetes and follow a healthy lifestyle, there may be no need for further treatment, but as the condition develops, you may have to adjust your lifestyle to meet your individual needs. If medication is required, it may be provided in the form of tablets and insulin, but do always attend regular check-ups, as your doctor can advise you best – every diabetes patient has their own individual needs.
If you suffer from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there are a series of health tests provided to help monitor your condition. Self-monitoring of your own glucose levels are essential, but regarding treatment plans, the HbA1c test is carried out once every 2-6 months by your GP by way of blood samples, and everyone over the age of 12 is offered a diabetic eye screen as standard.
Leading a healthy active lifestyle dramatically reduces the risk of diabetes becoming a reality, and helps to effectively manage the condition. If you notice symptoms such as needing the toilet more, being very thirsty and extremely tired, and think you may have this condition, visit your GP, who can arrange the necessary tests.
Let's help beat diabetes together. By raising awareness together, we can strengthen the global diabetes community.