Diabetes causes 500 early deaths every week — but most of us are still clueless about its symptoms. The disease affects five million adults, and hospitals are swamped with patients who suffer from the condition. Although it’s well-known that timely diagnosis is crucial, research has found that most people do not know the early signs of type 2 diabetes.
A screening study by Bluecrest Health revealed that only one in three adults makes a conscious decision about their lifestyle to reduce their risk. Dr Josh Cullimore, GP advisor at Bluecrest, said: “It’s evident from the study that awareness and understanding around the largely preventable type 2 diabetes is worryingly low. Many people have type 2 diabetes, but do not realise it. This lack of understanding may contribute to the deaths.”
Signs to look for
“Early warning signs include fatigue, weight loss, wounds that refuse to heal, the feeling of being constantly thirsty, or/and the need to urinate often,” says Dr Cullimore. “Oral thrush and shingles can also be indicators,” he adds.
“With diabetes type 2, often, there aren’t any symptoms for quite a long time. The condition leads to all sorts of health problems — heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure. It can really reduce life expectancy, so early detection is important. Consult your GP if you have any of the symptoms listed above. Anyone over the age of 40 should get tested every five years.”
Making the following lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your chances of developing the condition.
“Most people think about sugary, sweet foods in relation to diabetes, but one of the best things you can do is to cut down on red meat,” says Dr Cullimore.
He recommends a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and pulses. “Try to limit processed food and meat — perhaps try to have one meat-free day a week or one meat-free meal a day,” he adds.
“The recommended amount is 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Build up gradually, starting with fast walking. Household chores such as gardening are also good exercise — anything that gets you out of breath. If you can find an active hobby you like doing, great. If you love it, you’re more likely to keep doing it,” he says.
Exercise helps reduce
Lay off the booze
“This helps because it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and helps people maintain a healthy weight,” Dr Cullimore points out. He adds, “The maximum recommended alcohol intake is 14 units a week for both men and women. If you want to reduce alcohol intake, look at why you might be drinking too much. Or look for fun activities to take part in, away from your favourite watering holes.”
Smoking causes damage to the nerves and narrows blood vessels. “If you are trying to quit, try to find a good motivation, such as the health of loved ones or being able to do more exercise,” says Dr Cullimore. He adds that it might be a good idea to get professional help — see a doctor or therapist.
“They can prescribe