1 April 2019

By Erica Richardson, Lead Diabetes Specialist Nurse

April 1 marks the beginning of Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week so I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the condition and how we can all work to keep it at bay.

In Type 2 diabetes the level of blood glucose may vary and it often becomes too high. This causes symptoms including; excessive thirst, tiredness, increased urine frequency, recurrent infection, slow healing and blurred vision, headaches and trouble with concentration. The condition can affect individuals at any age, particularly if they are overweight and spend a lot of time sitting down and not getting much exercise.

The number of people living with Type 2 Diabetes is growing rapidly year on year and many living with the condition don’t even know they have it. This is because some people don’t get any symptoms, whilst many do, but associate them with a busy lifestyle or getting older.

Often people do not understand the risks associated with Type 2 Diabetes and therefore do not seek help and may live with it for a considerable time before any interventions are made.

There are an estimated 12.3 million people at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in the UK. Around 45,000 individuals across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin are living with the condition and at any given time around 20% of the beds at our two hospitals will have a person with diabetes occupying them.

By the time these individuals are admitted to hospital they have often developed complex conditions and diabetes-related complications. As blood feeds all organs in the body, in diabetes there is a potential for all areas of the body to be affected.

Often we detect problems with elevated blood glucose when reviewing someone’s eyes, their bloods for kidney function and Lipids and foot sensations. In 2014/15 to 2016/17 alone there were 208 amputations in our hospitals as a result of diabetic complications.

Type 2 Diabetes costs the NHS over £1.5m an hour, accounting for approximately 10% of the entire NHS budget for England and Wales. However, this figure could be reduced significantly as the majority of people with Type 2 Diabetes could reverse the condition, not only making huge savings for the health economy, but dramatically improving their own health and quality of life.

But prevention is always better than a cure and eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly is essential to avoid developing Type 2 Diabetes in the first place.

So, what can you do to help yourself?

First and foremost, don’t dismiss the signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. If you think you might be at risk of developing the condition there are two very easy ways to do something about it:

  • Take up the offer of a free NHS Health Check which will assess your risk of diabetes and other diseases
  • Speak to your GP practice

As a Trust we strive to achieve good health outcomes by having an honest relationship with our patients. We encourage them to discuss their concerns, frustrations and aims. This sort of relationship helps us set realistic goals and ensures that we always remain patient-focused, but we remain a treatment facility for those who are already suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.

Please do not wait until you have an established condition before accessing help

If you want to see whether you are at risk, go to www.riskscore.diabetes.co.uk to get an estimate of your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes