Suffolk’s Public Health teams launch Diabetes Awareness Campaign

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Suffolk County Council Public Health and OneLife Suffolk are raising awareness of how the condition can be prevented or managed for Diabetes Week.

Approximately 38,000 people are living with diabetes in Suffolk, a number which is increasing by 5% each year. There are also a further estimated 7,500 people in the county living with the condition who have not yet been diagnosed.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.

There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.

With Type 1 diabetes, the body cannot produce insulin, a hormone produced to keep blood sugar levels form becoming too high or too low.

With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. In both types of diabetes, this leads to high blood sugar levels which can lead to severe complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and blindness, if not managed properly.

Around 60% of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by making simple lifestyle changes. Early identification of people at risk and support to make key lifestyle changes can significantly reduce their chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

You are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if:

  • Risk increases with age. You are more at risk if you are white and over 40 or over 25 if you are African-Caribbean, Black African or South Asian
  • You are two to six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother sister or child with diabetes.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is two to four times more likely in people of South Asian descent and African-Caribbean or Black African descent.
  • You are more at risk if you have ever had high blood pressure.
  • You are more at risk of type 2 diabetes if you are overweight

The NHS health check performed by OneLife Suffolk offers a simple blood test called an HBa1c to anyone identified as being at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Visit onelifesuffolk.co.uk to find out more.

Those who are ineligible to receive an NHS Health Check, can check whether they may be at risk by using the diabetes risk score calculator at www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk/diabetes

It is also important to know the warning signs, these include:

  • Being more tired
  • Being more hungry
  • Being more thirsty
  • Going to the toilet more often

If you notice any of these symptoms you should contact your GP.

If you are at risk, you can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by:

  • Eating well
  • Being more active
  • Losing weight, if you're overweight.
  • Stopping smoking, if you smoke

Councillor James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Health at Suffolk County Council said:

“Early diagnosis and support can make a huge difference in helping people to prevent or manage diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is preventable. This is why it is so important to raise awareness, not only of the warning signs, but also how you can reduce your risk of developing the condition. Fitness programmes such as OneLife Suffolk’s Get Help to Get Active services offer people support to either prevent or manage their diabetes. OneLife Suffolk also offer free Stop Smoking services.

“Being diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes can be a confusing time and as part of our campaign we want to ensure that people are clear about what support is available to them to help them to manage their diabetes. Visit www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk/diabetes to check the 15 healthcare essentials.”

Mandy Hunt, lead diabetes specialist nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Our department runs on the ethos that diabetes education is the cornerstone of good self-management for our patients. We offer patient support to both people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, offering specialist courses that cover things like diet, lifestyle and medication management.

“We also work closely with One Life Suffolk, referring patients who may benefit from being more active to the brilliant Get Help to Get Active service – exercise is a great way of helping to manage Type 2 diabetes.

“Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to both short term and long term complications, such as cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage and foot damage, and even emergency hospital admissions. Thankfully with the right support, medication and lifestyle many patients lead fulfilling, long and happy lives whilst managing a long-term condition.”

OneLife Suffolk’s adult weight management and Get Help to Get Active services offer support with diabetes. You can call 01473 718193 or visit www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk for more information.

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