World Diabetes Day – Symptoms, Causes & Treatments for Diabetes

November 14th is World Diabetes Day, which aims to draw attention to the condition that is becoming increasingly prevalent in both young and old generations. To support this cause, selected Allcare Pharmacies are offering a FREE Diabetes 5 Point Health Check to Allcare Rewards customers when they swipe their rewards cards from November 14th to 21st.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the sugar level of the blood is too high. This happens when the body cannot break down carbohydrates properly due to a defect in the pancreas, the gland that produces insulin. This lack of insulin means that blood sugar levels move outside of the normal health range.

There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1, where the body’s immune system breaks down the cells that produce insulin, creating a deficiency, and Type 2, where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. Roughly 90% of diabetes cases in adults over 40 years old is Type 2 diabetes.

With an average of seven years between onset and diagnosis, the earlier the condition is detected the easier it will be to manage. Early detection gives the ability to protect against heart attack, stroke and vision loss which can develop due to high blood sugar levels over years.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Both types of diabetes carry many of the same symptoms. However, Type 1 develops quickly, often over weeks or even days. Many people can have Type 2 for years without realising because early symptoms tend to be general.

The main symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • Blurred vision

Who is at risk?

You may be at risk if:

  • You are over the age of 40
  • You are overweight (a BMI of 25 or higher)
  • You have a family history of diabetes
  • You had the condition during pregnancy
  • You do not exercise regularly (it is recommended to get 30 minutes of exercise five days per week)
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have high cholesterol

How can your Allcare Pharmacy Team help?

At Allcare, we offer the Diabetes 5 Point Health Check to assess some of the main risk factors for developing diabetes. The service involves a consultation with our pharmacist in the private consultation room and looks at the following:

  1. Blood Glucose – Measuring your blood glucose will tell you how much sugar is in your blood. The pharmacist can easily measure your blood glucose level and give you an immediate result. This test involves taking a small finger prick sample of blood.
  2. Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is a risk-factor common to a number of different conditions, including diabetes. As part of the service, your blood pressure will be taken and the results will be discussed with you.
  3. BMI – Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of your weight against your height and indicates if you are carrying too much weight. It is advised that your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 to maintain a healthy weight for your height.
  4. Waist Size – People who carry weight around their waist have a higher risk of developing diabetes. It is advised that healthy waist measurements for females are those that are less than 32 inches (80cm) and that measurements for males are less than 37inches (94cm).
  5. Exercise – A small amount of regular exercise will help reduce your blood glucose and has many other health benefits too. It is recommended to take at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.

Once our pharmacist has completed the measurements, they will discuss all the results and what they mean for you. They may discuss some lifestyle changes that would help reduce your risk of developing diabetes, or they may refer you onto your GP if they think you need further tests. You’ll also get a copy of your results to take home with you.

Managing diabetes

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed. Talk to your health care team and ask your GP or Pharmacist if you have any questions about your diabetes. Actions you can take to help manage the condition include creating a self-care plan that ensures you:

  • Report any changes in your health
  • Create a healthy meal plan and stick to it
  • Get 30 mins of exercise in per day
  • Know how and when to test your blood sugar

Your Pharmacist can help you manage your diabetes in the following ways:

  • A member of your pharmacy team can advise you on the correct use of your blood glucose monitor.
  • We can provide you with a review of your medicines to help you take the right doses at the right time, discuss any possible side-effects and make sure you are getting the most from your treatment.
  • A member of your pharmacy team can check your Body Mass Index for free and discuss the results with you.
  • For people with diabetes, taking care of your feet is extremely important. This is because diabetes can reduce your sensitivity to pain in your feet, meaning you may be more susceptible to injury and infection. A member of your Allcare pharmacy team can advise you on the range of footcare products available in the pharmacy.
  • If you are on regular prescription medication we can prepare your medicines in advance each month and send you a text to let you know when they are ready for collection. We will also remind you when you need to renew your prescription with your doctor.

If you have any concerns about your diabetes, or would like to test whether you may susceptible to the condition, contact your local Allcare Pharmacy or consult your GP. You can find your nearest Allcare Pharmacy here.