Diabetes Symptoms: Pharmacist highlights the six main signs – how many do you recognise?

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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A lot of us know or have known someone who has diabetes; we may have even asked them about how they manage their condition or seen them give themselves an insulin injection. But have we ever asked ourselves, do I have it? The condition can lie dormant for years before symptoms show up. 

Ahead of World Diabetes Day earlier this year, Pharmacy2U and Diabetes UK formed a partnership to raise awareness about the two different types of diabetes and the main symptoms.

Through this campaign they aim to highlight a growing medical issue in the UK as well as help to normalise the condition and provide a service to those who are either in or recently diagnosed.

The six main symptoms according to Pharmacy2U’s pharmacist Sumaiya Patel and Diabetes UK include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Wounds healing slowly
  • Excessive thirst
  • Having to urinate often, especially during the night
  • Severe tiredness
  • Experiencing infections such as thrush.

The advice, if you are suffering from any of these symptoms, is to contact and consult your GP or call the NHS’s 111 helpline.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are two of the most common conditions in the UK. 

According to Diabetes UK, more than 4.9 million people in the UK suffer with the condition, a number they predict will grow to 5.5 million by 2030.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body cannot make any insulin. Usually affecting young adults and children, this is the least common of the two types, with one in 10 people with diabetes being Type 1. 

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Those who are diagnosed will normally be prescribed insulin to replace the hormone that they’re unable to produce.

Type 2 diabetes is caused either by your pancreas not producing enough insulin or your body no longer being able to use the insulin it makes. 

Type 2 diabetes is a little easier to treat; lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and a better diet can help people to improve their condition. 

If this is ineffective, then medication can be prescribed.

The most important factor, particularly with Type 1 diabetes, is that it needs to be monitored regularly.

According to Ms Patel, “it’s important to monitor blood sugar levels regularly. If blood sugar levels are too high…insulin doses may need to be increased, and if they become too low…this can be remedied by having sugary food or a glucose tablet”.  

However, even though diabetes needs to be managed and monitored it is not a limiting condition; earlier this year Radio 1 Xtra presenter & Type 1 Diabetic, Reece Parkinson successfully completed his first Ultramarathon. 

Other famous figures who live with the condition include the singer Nick Jonas, former Prime Minister Theresa May and actor Tom Hanks.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have their own risk factors that will affect how likely you are to get the condition.

With Type 1, the main risk factors are your age and your family history. Whilst you can get it at any age, as in the case of Reece Parkinson and Tom Hanks, you’re more likely to get it when you’re a child, teenager or young adult.

The second factor is family history, if a member of your close family has it, then there’s a greater likelihood that you may develop it; according to Diabetes UK, there is little scientific certainty about the exact causes of Type 1.

More is known about the risk factors of Type 2 however. The most notable factor is your lifestyle, such as your weight and how much you smoke, drink and exercise; a healthy diet (with no smoking) will lower the chances of developing Type 2.

Other mitigating factors include your ethnicity. You’re two to four times more likely to get Type 2 if you’re of South Asian, African Caribbean or Black African descent.

Additionally, mental health conditions have also been found to have an impact with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression linked to the condition, although the risk is very low.

For more information about the symptoms, causes and treatments for diabetes, as well as research into the condition, you can visit the Diabetes UK website via these red words.

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