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Diabetes UK’s response to Diane Abbott announcement

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You may have seen Diane Abbott's announcement that she has Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is the fastest growing health threat today. We know that 3.6 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, and around 11.9 million adults are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes but don't even know it. Its impact and complications can be devastating, causing blindness, amputations, even early death.

Diabetes occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high because your body can't use it properly for energy. This happens because the pancreas either doesn't produce any insulin, enough insulin, or the insulin it does produce doesn't work properly. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. They're different conditions, caused by different things, but they are both serious and need to be treated and managed properly.

DuringDiabetes Weekthis week (11–17 June), Diabetes UK is urging people to 'Know diabetes. Fight diabetes'.

About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 1, which means that their body doesn't produce any insulin. Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin either via injections or a pump. Type 1 is not related to lifestyle factors and it's not preventable.

People with Type 2 diabetes don't produce enough insulin, or the insulin they produce doesn't work properly. Type 2 diabetes is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. Medication and/or insulin is often required too. One of the biggest risk factors for Type 2 is being overweight. Age, ethnicity and family history can also have an impact. Three out of five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed if people take action, to maintain a healthy weight, eat well and be active.

Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly are really important for managing all types of diabetes, as well as preventing Type 2 diabetes. Making these lifestyle changes, as well as taking medications as prescribed helps to manage blood sugar, blood fat and blood pressure levels, which will reduce the risk of diabetes complications.

Getting the right health checks is vital. They show you how your diabetes is progressing, help to spot signs of complications as early as possible and identify changes to help prevent complications. Diabetes UK's15 Healthcare essentialswill help anyone living with diabetes to see they are getting the checks and tests which can help.

Some medications for diabetes, and insulin, can cause blood sugar levels to go too low, below 4mmol/L. This is calledhypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia (also known as a hypo) must be treated immediately by taking quick-acting glucose, often in the form of glucose tablets, non-diet drink or sweets.

We know that diabetes can be difficult to manage for some people, but having diabetes is not a barrier to holding down a job or juggling family life. We talk to many people living with diabetes who are testament to this.

Diabetes symptoms

The most common symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
  • Being really thirsty
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Genital itching or thrush
  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
  • Blurred vision.

Having some of the signs of diabetes doesn't mean you definitely have the condition, but you should always contact your GP, just to make sure.

Kathryn Kirchner, Clinical Advisor, Diabetes UKKathryn Kirchner, Clinical Advisor, Diabetes UK

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