Diabetes and Healthy Living
Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. Diabetes has become a serious problem both globally and within Ireland. In the absence of a register of people who have diabetes, no-one can be entirely sure how many people in Ireland live with diabetes. At present however it is estimated that 1 in 20 people have diabetes and 1 in 8 of people over 60 test positive for the disease.
Many more people have blood glucose (sugar) levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. Referred to as “pre-diabetes”, if you demonstrate these levels , you have a greater risk of developing full-blown diabetes. Early diagnosis is especially important for diabetes, because it can get progressively worse if left untreated.
There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes or insulin resistant diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin. Type 2 diabetes is far more common and occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or doesn’t effectively use the insulin it inherently produces. In developed countries, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually develops before the age of 40 – often in the teenage years, while type 2 diabetes tends to be diagnosed in older people.
Even if you feel healthy, you may have a higher than normal blood glucose level (pre-diabetes) and be at risk of developing the condition down the line. Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems. It’s the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in people of working age. People with diabetes are up to five times more likely to have cardiovascular disease and stroke than those without diabetes.
Other significant common complications include:
- Peripheral neuropathy (Nerve damage of fingers, toes and digestive system)
- Kidney Disease
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Foot problems
- Miscarriage and Stillbirth .
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes are usually obvious and develop very quickly, often over a few weeks. The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes aren’t always as obvious, are often mild and it’s often diagnosed during a routine check-up after a period of time. This means that many people have type 2 diabetes for many years without realising it. These include:
- Excessive thirst
- Increasing frequency of urination especially at night
- Rapid increase or decrease in weight with no obvious explanation
- Increased appetite
- Excessive Tiredness
- Decreased motivation and lack of concentration
- Gastric symptoms especially cramps and vomiting
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet.
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision (caused by the lens of the eye becoming dry)
These symptoms occur because some or all of the glucose stays in your blood and isn’t used as fuel for energy in the normal way.
Your body will also try to get rid of the excess glucose by eliminating it in your urine. While all these symptoms are common in diabetes, they do not necessarily mean a patient is diabetic. None the less, you should attend your doctor to have them investigated further. The longer diabetes remains undiagnosed, the greater the chances of long term damage so it is best to seek medical advice as soon as possible. To mark World Diabetes Day November 14th, your local Allcare Pharmacy will be hosting an event to raise awareness of diabetes. .Some of the ways your Allcare Pharmacist can help include: Providing information on type 1 and type 2 diabetes and directing patients and their families towards some of the best information resources and support groups available Free Blood Glucose screening: We will provide you a rapid and easy blood glucose test and refer you to your doctor if we feel it is warranted.
Consult with your pharmacist now and we will give you information on the optimal conditions for this test. This is especially important to avail of if you are experiencing symptoms or fall within an at-risk group. Blood Glucose meter consultation; For existing diabetic patients, we can demonstrate how to get the best from your blood glucose meters, discuss the new ISO guidelines around meters , and help you source replacement meters.
Review your medication and discuss how best to manage your diabetic medication to achieve the best outcomes for your health Information on improving your health using diet, exercise, quitting smoking, foot care and all other aspects on minimising the effect of your diabetes while you enjoy the finer things in life. Information on how you can be proactive about minimising your potential of developing type 2 diabetes. Your local Allcare Pharmacist is a fully trained Healthcare Professional who looks after diabetic patients every day and is freely available without appointment to discuss all your healthcare concerns. See our website www.allcarepharmacy.ie of find us on facebook for details of an event in your local area.
By Paula Marie Murphy MPSI