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Diabetes

2.8 million people in the UK have diabetes and approximately 850,000 more are unaware that they may be diabetic. People can get diabetes at any age.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for energy to keep you going. However, too much glucose in the blood isn’t good for your health. Glucose comes from the consumption of starch-based foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, chapatis and yams.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent diabetes, however eating healthily and taking regular exercise may help to delay the condition.


Main Symptoms of Diabetes

The main symptons of diabetes are:

  • Being very thirsty
  • Needing to urinate more (especially during the night)
  • Feeling very hungry or very tired
  • Losing weight (without trying to)
  • Having blurred vision
  • Having sores that heal slowly
  • Having dry, itchy skin
  • Losing the feeling in your feet, or having tingling in the feet
  • Having regular episodes of thrush

Types of Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes:

Type 1 – This is where the body is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes typically begins in childhood and through the teenage years. If there is a family history of diabetes, there is a greater chance of developing Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 – This results from a lack of insulin or when the insulin that there is doesn’t work properly. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and usually affects people over the age of 40 years old. The following groups of people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes:

  • Older people
  • Asian or African Caribbean people
  • People that are overweight
  • People that are not physically active

Treatment of Diabetes

Treatment of Type 1 diabetes – Injecting insulin (injections are simple and painless) and eating a sensible diet.

Treatment of Type 2 diabetes – Type 2 diabetes is usually controlled by diet and medication in tablet form.

A healthy diet includes fruit and vegetables, protein and fibre and less sugar, saturated fat and salt. In particular, cut down on sugary fizzy drinks and fruit juice as they will cause your blood sugar to spike and lead to weight gain.


Why you need to take care of your diabetes

It is really important that you manage your diabetes. If not, after many years it can lead to serious problems in your eyes, kidneys, nerves, gums and teeth.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is also possible that you could develop complications in your feet. For information about how to look after your feet, see our section on Healthy feet, or read The Society for Chiropodists and Podiatrists’ advice leaflet Diabetes and your feet.

The most serious problem caused by diabetes is heart disease. When you have diabetes, you are more than twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke. You can reduce this risk by controlling your blood pressure and blood fat levels, and by stopping smoking if you are a smoker. (See our section Giving up smoking for more information on this.)


Local Information and Advice

Newcastle Diabetes Centre is based at Newcastle General Hospital. The centre provides specialist services for patients with diabetes, by arrangement with their GP. Speak to your GP if you think a referral to the centre would be beneficial for you.

Diabetes UK – Newcastle has a local Support Group.


Information in other Languages

Diabetes UK provides a wide range of information on diabetes in 20 languages.


Other Useful Information

  • Diabetes
  • Health Talk Online
  • The Patient Information Centre offers a range of health related information including;
    • medical conditions
    • procedures and treatments
    • details about self help and support groups
    • information about
    • complaints procedures
    • copies of leaflets
  • NHS 111 has an online symptoms checker tool. Ring NHS 111 if you  need fast support and advice.  For a medical emergency ring 999.
  • NHS.UK is a website providing health and medicines information and you can search for local services.

Please note – The content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you are feeling unwell, make an appointment to see your GP or contact NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999.

Last updated: November 28, 2018

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