Type 2 diabetes is a modern epidemic. According to Diabetes UK, there are now more than 4.5 million people living with diabetes in the UK, 90 per cent of which have type 2 diabetes. It’s most common in those over age 40 (or over age 25 if you are black or Asian). Your age, genetics and your weight are the key risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). Insulin is the hormone in your body that helps your body to use glucose for energy. Glucose is carried in the blood and insulin unlocks cells so glucose can enter body cells and be used as energy.
What are the main symptoms of diabetes?
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Persistent hunger, even after a meal
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blurred vision
- Hearing loss
- Unexplained weight loss
How is diabetes diagnosed?
Diabetes is diagnosed with a simple blood test. It’s a fasting blood test designed to measure the glucose levels in your blood.
Are there any complications with diabetes?
Potentially yes. Living with diabetes you are much more likely to suffer from other chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease. You are, for example, twice as likely to have a stroke as compared with people who don’t have diabetes. Kidney disease is more common in people with diabetes, as is the eye disease, retinopathy. People with diabetes are also at a greater risk of depression and dementia.
How to reduce the risk of getting diabetes
In type 2 diabetes there is a complex mix of genetics and environmental factors underlying the condition. It tends to run in families. However, obesity is the most potent risk factor, especially in those with an apple shape (large around the middle). A healthier diet and more exercise are the two greatest measures you can take to protect yourself against type 2 diabetes. Here are some key tips:
- Avoid fast food, ready meals and calorie-rich food
- Avoid too much sugary food, and cut out sugary drinks
- Develop healthy eating habits and lose excess weight
- Exercise regularly. You should aim for 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise at least five days a week.
Having diabetes could prevent you getting private health insurance as it’s commonly listed by insurers as a pre-existing condition they won’t cover if you already have the condition before your policy starts.
If you want to find out more about your risk, consult a medical professional, such as your GP or private doctor. Always consult a medical professional if you have any concerns about your health.