Wednesday, 16 January 2013
With cases of diabetes on the rise, Clare Russell discusses how to beat the blood feud
Written by Clare RussellDiabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas does not produce any, or enough, insulin. One of the earliest diseases to be described, it appears in an old Egyptian manuscript c. 1500 BC, which mentions 'too great emptying of the urine'. In India, at around about the same time, physicians called it 'honey urine'. But it was considered a rare affliction during the time of the Roman empire – possibly owing to the diet and lifestyle of the Romans.
Nowadays, as diabetes reaches almost epidemic proportions, we should perhaps pay more attention to the Roman lifestyle. There are 3.7 million people suffering from diabetes in this country, 90 per cent of whom have Type 2 diabetes, which can be caused by being overweight or having an unhealthy lifestyle. (Type 1 usually starts in childhood and cannot be prevented.) A further 7 million people are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and if current trends continue, 4 million people will have diabetes by the year 2015.
That's a heck of a lot of people. According to Cathy Moulton, clinical advisor to Diabetes UK, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: 'Eating healthily, losing excess weight and doing at least 10 minutes of physical activity a day, which means, Moulton adds, 'an activity such as swimming, walking or biking that makes you slightly out of breath, but able to talk.'
There are some risk factors for Type 2 diabetes that cannot be avoided, such as ageing – as you grow older the pancreas becomes less efficient at processing insulin. Or, having a family history of diabetes.
People of south Asian or African extraction are more at risk. But these unavoidable factors are exacerbated by being overweight; well over 80 per cent of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight – particularly if, in the case of women, the weight is located around the waist (the risk of Type 2 diabetes increases if your waist measures more than 31½ inches).
If you think you're at risk, what should you do? Cathy Moulton suggests: 'Follow 'the risk-assessment page on the website – www.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore – and if you are found to be at risk, you'll be directed to your GP.' Diabetes UK also stages roadshows all over the country, which will carry out an assessment. 'Fifty per cent of those who attend the road shows,' Moulton notes, 'are sent on to their doctors; numbers are escalating.'
And for those who have been diagnosed and may need extra help, the Diabetes UK careline is staffed by counsellors who can answer any questions (most of which are to do with diet). There are voluntary help groups throughout the country – just go to the Diabetes UK website to find your nearest one. Diabetes UK has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, which are monitored by clinical advisors who will intervene if the online chat seems to be going astray.
Diabetes UK is also involved with NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidance in an area that is actively involved with child obesity problems.
Diabetes managementIf not managed in the right way, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness or limb amputation. Here are some of the symptoms:
- Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
- Increased thirst
- Extreme tiredness
- Unexplained weight loss
- Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
- Blurred vision
Daily tip from the lady archive
“HEAVEN forbid that we should go back to the days when beauty was under suspicion and plain girls were assumed to have angelic natures.”The Lady. With Prejudice. 28th April 1938