Stepping Up the Fight to Beat a Potential Killer

Article excerpt

Byline: By Julie Cush

Diabetes is a condition which can affect anybody at any age. There are 1.4 million sufferers and statistics show there may be a further one million who are undiagnosed because they don't know the symptoms.

The national charity Diabetes UK is holding an awareness week from June 8 to 15 to help tackle the problem.

Diabetes is easily diagnosed and if it is caught early enough, is easier to control.

But, if it goes untreated it can lead to a whole range of life-threatening illnesses, including kidney failure and heart disease.

This week we speak to sufferers who are proving there is no reason why anybody living with diabetes should not live a full and active life.

We also find out about a worrying increase in the number of overweight people who are developing diabetes.

Spotlight on two types

Having diabetes mellitus means there is an excessive amount of glucose in the blood because the body cannt use it properly.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 (insulin dependant), when the body is unable to produce insulin, and Type 2 (non-insulin dependant), when the body is able to produce insulin but not enough.

Type 1 is less common and usually occurs in childhood.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 per cent of all sufferers and the majority of people who are diagnosed with this form are overweight. Excess fat stops insulin working properly.

Type 2 is on the whole a preventable condition. Risk can be significantly lowered if you are physically active, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.

Diabetes needs to be well managed, achieving normal blood glucose levels through a combination of a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and daily injections or tablets.

The symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, tiredness, low energy levels, wight loss, blurred vision and going to the toilet all the time.

The risks of undiagnosed or badly managed diabetes include heart disease, kidney damage and blindness. Lower limb amputation is also increased 15-fold.

For further information contact Diabetes UK on 020 7424 1000.

The hardest thing is weight control

There are two things that Lyn Benson especially doesn't like about her condition - people poking about with her eyes and putting on weight.

Unusually, the 39-year-old was only diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes seven years ago. Most sufferers are diagnosed as children.

But despite being deeply shocked, she has adapted to a life shared with three needles a day with relative ease.

But the real downside has been that her weight has crept up by two stone and she's not that keen on regular eye check-ups.

The build-up of glucose can cause eye problems so every year Lyn, of Leam Lane, Gateshead, has to endure having little "mini drips" put into her eyes to make her pupils go bigger so they can be examined properly.

But she tries not to think about it and on the whole is proud of the fact she has never let diabetes interfere with her lifestyle.

Lyn who works as an office clerk with Priory Rover in Westerhope, said: "I was really thirsty, going to the toilet a lot and had blurred vision.

"I had an under active thyroid and the doctor also gave me a blood test for diabetes at the same time.

"He did the blood test in the morning and I went to hospital that night - it happened that quickly just in the space of one day.

"I had to go to casualty and the doctor came down and did some more blood tests and I was put on a drip.

"It kept going through my mind that I would have to go on injections and it worried me, but I have actually learned to live with it, you do so very quickly.

"When I was diagnosed I had low blood sugar a lot and I still have the occasional hypo (low blood sugar)."

Lyn has found one of the most challenging aspects of her condition is adapting to a good diet. …