Health matters

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.

AS part of our ongoing series of health columns, Julie Hirst, public health specialist for NHS Derbyshire County, including Buxton and the High Peak, talks about World Diabetes Day.

World Diabetes Day, on November 14 every year, has grown from humble beginnings to become a globally-celebrated event to increase awareness about diabetes. It’s an important event with over 850,000 people in England now living with undiagnosed diabetes. There are a further 7 million people who may be at high risk of getting it too.

Diabetes is a long term condition that affects the body’s ability to process sugar. It is a serious condition that needs to be diagnosed early to avoid complications. These include Heart Disease, Amputations, Stroke, Blindness and Kidney Disease. With early diagnosis and careful management, people with diabetes can continue to lead healthy and active lives. There are famous athletes living with diabetes, such as Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave.

Do you know whether you are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes? If you know you are at higher risk you can do something about it to ensure your risk doesn’t increase any further.

A number of factors are taken into consideration. Many are things we cannot control but some, such as healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight and being more active, can make a real difference. The risk factors include:

* Being over 40 or over 25 if you’re Asian or black.

* Having a close family member (parent, brother or sister) who has type 2 diabetes.

* Being south Asian or African-Caribbean. These ethnic groups are five times more likely to get type 2 diabetes.

* Being overweight or obese, or having increased fat around your waist

* Having polycystic ovary syndrome, especially if you’re also overweight.

* Having had  gestational diabetes during pregnancy

* Having impaired fasting glycaemia or impaired glucose tolerance.

If any of these risk factors apply to you, you should maintain a healthy weight to ensure that your risk of diabetes doesn’t increase further.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can develop gradually – that is why many people learn to live with the condition without being concerned. They may also put off going to their GP because they are worried about getting a diagnosis or that the condition might affect their work.

So, if you are passing urine more often than usual (especially at night), have increased thirst, are suffering from extreme tiredness, have unexplained weight loss, have genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, or have experienced slow healing of cuts and wounds, it is worth consulting your GP to get checked out.

Diabetes UK have an excellent website with further information regarding risk and symptoms of diabetes