Get to know diabetes during Diabetes Week 2017
This week is Diabetes Week, and we’re joining forces with the council and Diabetes UK to urge Wandsworth residents to get to know the disease and learn how to fight it.
Diabetes means the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high because your body can’t use it properly for energy. This happens when your pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, which tells your body to store glucose for when you need it later. It sounds simple but over time the impact can be devastating, causing heart disease, blindness, amputations, and even early death.
90% of cases are due to Type 2 diabetes, which is largely caused by being overweight or obese and by eating too much sugar, although your age, ethnicity and family history can also have an impact. Improving your diet and doing more physical activity can reduce your chances of developing it. The other 10% of cases are due to Type 1 diabetes, which is caused by an immune disease and isn’t preventable, but it’s still important to manage the condition and take the right medication.
Type 2 diabetes is increasingly common. Each week 15 people in Wandsworth are told they have Type 2 diabetes. In a year that’s enough to fill 10 double decker buses. There are already 11,700 local people living with Type 2 diabetes and another 23,000 are on the verge of getting it.
The Mayor of Wandsworth, Cllr Jim Maddan, has spoken out about his own diabetes in order to encourage others to face up to the disease. He said:
“I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2000. I changed my diet and started to take more exercise. It worked for a while, but I was soon having to take medication – first two tablets a day until finally I was on ten tablets a day. In 2011, after a spell in intensive care, I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver caused by the diabetes eating away at my liver.
“It has brought home to me the need for regular check-ups. Things can change very quickly. If in doubt seek the advice of your GP. Don't put it off. If you are in the high risk group, change your diet and take more exercise. You will lose weight and feel better for it.”
Steps you can take to fight diabetes
Diabetes is a serious condition, but there are steps you can take to know more about diabetes and your risk of developing it, to reduce your chance of getting it, and to help you manage it if you do have it:
- Find out what your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes is. It takes less than three minutes to use Diabetes UK’s online questionnaire, Know Your Risk, at https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start
- Reduce the risk of developing diabetes by eating well, moving more and stopping smoking. You may be eligible for free council-run exercise and weight management schemes and a Stop Smoking support service. Those confirmed to be at high risk of diabetes through their GP may also be eligible for the new Healthier You programme, which offers people advice on how to eat healthily, get active, and permanently change their lifestyle to reduce their risk.
- Getting the right health checks is vital, as is taking the right medication. Anyone aged 40-74 who has not had a free NHS health check in the last five years and has not been diagnosed with diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease or stroke is advised to get one. Just ask your GP.
- If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, make sure you attend your annual health check up with your GP.
- Through the NHS in Wandsworth, a number of local courses can be accessed to equip people with the education and skills to manage their diabetes. Details of the DESMOND, DAFNE and BERTIE courses can be found in the education section of the Wandsworth Wellbeing Hub. The website also contains details of other self-management courses for people who are living with one or more long-term conditions.
The Diabetes Champions programme, run by NHS Wandsworth Clinical Commissioning Group, aims to raise awareness of diabetes amongst Wandsworth residents. The Champions speak at various local forums and work with local organisations to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes, the risk factors and the signs and symptoms to look out for. To book a Diabetes Champion to speak with your group, or to find out more about becoming a Diabetes Champion, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The team are currently looking to recruit more Diabetes Champions, write to Janice O'Brien at the above email before 1 September 2017 to register your interest.
With good management of diabetes, those that do have it can lead normal lives.