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World Diabetes Day – Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

November 14th is World Diabetes Day, which aims to draw attention to the condition that is becoming increasingly prevalent in both young and old generations. 

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the sugar level of the blood is too high. This happens when the body cannot break down carbohydrates properly due to a defect in the pancreas, the gland that produces insulin. This lack of insulin means that blood sugar levels move outside of the normal healthy range.

There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1, where the body’s immune system breaks down the cells that produce insulin, creating a deficiency, and Type 2, where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. In persons over 40, Type 2 diabetes accounts for over 90% of diabetes cases.

With an average of seven years between onset and diagnosis, the earlier the condition is detected the easier it will be to manage. Early detection gives the ability to protect against heart attack, stroke, and vision loss which can develop due to high blood sugar levels over years.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Both types of diabetes carry many of the same symptoms. However, Type 1 develops quickly, often over weeks or even days. Due to the generic nature of type 2 symptoms, many people may go years without realizing they have Type 2 diabetes.

The main symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • Blurred vision

Who is at risk?

You may be at risk if:

  • You are over the age of 40
  • You are overweight (a BMI of 25 or higher)
  • You have a family history of diabetes
  • You had the condition during pregnancy
  • You do not exercise regularly (it is recommended to get 30 minutes of exercise five days per week)
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have high cholesterol

How can your Life Pharmacy Team help?

  1. Using your Blood Glucose Monitor
    If you are diabetic it is important to keep control of your blood glucose levels. Follow your doctor’s instructions on how often you need to check your blood glucose using your blood glucose monitor. A member of your Life pharmacy team can advise you on the correct use of your blood glucose monitor.
  2. Medicines Dispensing and Review
    We can provide you with a review of your medicines to help you take the right doses at the right time, discuss any possible side-effects and make sure you are getting the most from your medicines.
  3. Lifestyle Changes
    Our pharmacist can assess your lifestyle and recommend some changes that may help improve your diabetes and general health.
  4. Weight Management
    It is important to maintain a healthy weight for good diabetes control. A member of your pharmacy team can check your BMI for free and discuss the results with you.
  5. Footcare Advice
    For people with diabetes, taking care of your feet is extremely important. This is because diabetes can reduce your sensitivity to pain in your feet, meaning you may be more susceptible to injury and infection. A member of your Life pharmacy team can advise you on the range of footcare products that is available in the pharmacy.
  6. Prescription Text Service
    If you are on regular prescription medication we can prepare your medicines in advance each month and send you a text to let you know when they are ready for collection. We will also remind you when you need to renew your prescription with your doctor.

Managing diabetes

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed. Talk to your health care team and ask your GP or Pharmacist if you have any questions about your diabetes. Actions you can take to help manage the condition include creating a self-care plan that ensures you:

  • Report any changes in your health
  • Create a healthy meal plan and stick to it
  • Get 30 mins of exercise in per day
  • Know how and when to test your blood sugar