Charity's diabetes checks call

Less than one in five people who have diabetes, have the condition under control, Diabetes UK has warned. The charity is calling for an increase in health checks for those with diabetes.

The symptoms of diabetes

The main symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes can include:

  • Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
  • Increased thirst
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • Blurred vision

In Type 1 diabetes the signs and symptoms are usually very obvious and develop very quickly, typically over a few weeks. The symptoms are quickly relieved once the diabetes is treated and under control.

In Type 2 diabetes the signs and symptoms may not be so obvious, as the condition develops slowly over a period of years and may only be picked up in a routine medical check up. Symptoms are quickly relieved once diabetes is treated and under control.

More must be done to tackle diabetes, says charity

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, has accused the healthcare system of being "all too often not good enough" when tackling diabetes.

People with diabetes needed self-management support programmes, along with ongoing medical support and education if they were to avoid complications and reduce the risk of early death, she added.

Given that diabetes is serious and can lead to early death if not supported to manage their condition, it is extremely worrying that so few people have it under control.

When you consider that there are now three million people diagnosed with diabetes and this number is rising quickly, the fact that so many of them do not have good control over their diabetes means that unless something changes we face a public health disaster.

– Baroness Young

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850,000 people 'do not know they have diabetes'

  • There are 3m people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 850,000 people who have the condition but don’t know it.
  • Some 24,000 people with diabetes die early every year in England and Wales, according to Diabetes UK.
  • 19.9% of people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in England meet health targets for blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, with the number even lower in Wales at 18.5%.
  • Out of those in England with Type 1 diabetes only 11.4% are meeting the recommended levels.
  • The NHS spends about £10 billion a year on diabetes, some 10% of its entire budget, with 80% of that going on treating complications that could have been prevented in many cases.

Source: Diabetes UK

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a common life-long health condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.

This is because your pancreas does not produce any insulin, or not enough, to help glucose enter your body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes develops when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. As a result the body is unable to produce insulin and this leads to increased blood glucose levels, which in turn can cause serious damage to all organ systems in the body.
  • Type 2 diabetes develops when the body does not produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level, or when the body is unable to effectively use the insulin that is being produced.

Source: Diabetes UK

Less than one in five have their diabetes 'under control'

Less than one in five people with diabetes in England and Wales have their diabetes 'under control', a leading charity has warned.

Diabetes UK has said that the number of people failing to manage the condition properly could lead to a 'public health disaster' unless the Government steps in.

Less than one in five people with diabetes are failing to manage the condition, the charity has warned. Credit: PA

The charity is calling on the Government to increase the number of people with diabetes getting nine annual health checks and to hold poor-performing areas of England and Wales to account.

Without proper control, diabetes can lead to serious complications including kidney failure and stroke.