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Diabetes Week

Raising awareness about the condition and promoting healthy lifestyles to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Man checking his blood sugar levels

about DIABETES WEEK


Diabetes Week (10-16th June 2024), set up by charity group Diabetes UK, is an annual initiative devoted to raising awareness of diabetes. This year the focus is on the health checks people with diabetes need to prevent serious diabetes complications. Everyone living with diabetes should have certain checks and appointments when they’re first diagnosed with the condition, to make sure they understand it and can live well with diabetes. Moreover, people should expect regular care and diabetes checks and tests every year, like an HbA1c test, a blood pressure check, eye screening, foot check, blood and urine tests, or a review of weight and BMI.


what IS DIABETES?


It is estimated that more 4.3 million people in the UK live with diabetes. Additionally, 850,000 people could be living with diabetes who are yet to be diagnosed.

Diabetes is a serious condition where the blood glucose level is too high. It occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. In consequence, glucose stays in the bloodstream and can’t move across into the cells to give them energy to work properly. Over the long-term, high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.


There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1: it can develop at any age, but usually is more common among children and adolescents. 1 in 10 people with diabetes are Type 1. When you have type 1 diabetes, your body produces very little or no insulin at all. It means that you need daily insulin injections to maintain blood glucose levels under control.

  • Type 2: it occurs most frequently in adults and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make good use of the insulin that it produces.  


Other types of diabetes include gestational diabetes, which some women may develop during pregnancy. There are also other rarer types of diabetes, such as type 3c diabetes and Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA).


Many people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. This is sometimes known as pre-diabetes. If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes is increased.


Watch the video below to get an overview of what diabetes is:




what ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES?


The common symptoms of diabetes include: 

  • Urinating more than usual, especially at night

  • Being thirsty

  • Feeling more tired than usual

  • Losing weight unexpectedly

  • Having blurred vision

  • Genital itching or thrush

  • Cuts and wounds taking longer to heal


In type 1 diabetes, the symptoms can develop very quickly, and can develop significantly over the course of weeks or even days – particularly in children or adolescents. Type 2 diabetes tends to develop more slowly, usually over a period of months or even years. The symptoms can appear very gradually, which can make spotting the signs more difficult. If you have any of the symptoms of diabetes, you should contact your GP who will arrange blood tests to measure your blood glucose (sugar) levels. A diagnosis of diabetes is always confirmed by laboratory results.


Watch a video below to find out more about common diabetes symptoms and what causes them:




what ARE THE RISK FACTORS OF DIABETES?


The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still not known and currently there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. However, there are a few risk factors that are closely linked to type 2 diabetes:

  • Obesity and sedentary lifestyle

  • Smoking and drinking alcohol

  • High blood pressure

  • Family history

  • History of gestational diabetes

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women


If you are at risk of diabetes and meet the criteria, you may be eligible to access your local Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. Through this 9-month programme you will receive tailored and personalised support from the Health & Wellbeing Coach to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes including education on healthy eating and exercising. Depending on your personal preference, you may join group sessions or a one-to-one digital coaching.


"The Healthier You programme is absolutely the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It was the wakeup call I truly needed when my GP referred me as my weight and blood glucose levels were rising."


WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR DIABETES?


There are several treatments available to help manage and treat diabetes. Everyone is different, so treatment will vary depending on individual needs. Type 1 diabetes is treated by taking insulin injections or using an insulin pump. There are a wide range of computerised diabetes devices available to help people better manage their blood sugar levels. If you have Type 1 diabetes, you may be able to get an islet cell transplant. Type 2 diabetes might be initially treated with a well-balanced diet combined with regular exercise. But if blood sugar levels are still high, medications are used to help the body use its own insulin more efficiently. In some cases, insulin injections may be necessary.


If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, visit Diabetes UK Learning Zone – it will give you videos, quizzes and interactive tools with tasty food swaps and tailored tips for managing diabetes day-to-day. Also, My Type 1 Diabetes free platform offers a wide range of digital support tools and resources on Type 1 diabetes.


You may also find these resources helpful:



DIABETES In the workplace


Supporting employee with diabetes in the workplace

Most employees with diabetes are able to manage the condition so that it has little or no impact on their working lives. However, as diabetes can affect people in different ways over time, it's crucial that employers recognise their lawful duty to put reasonable adjustments in place if needed. There are many small and simple changes that an employer can make to support an employee with diabetes, for example:

  • creating a safe, discrete and clean environment to administer insulin or recover after a hypo

  • providing access to glucose sweets or drinks in an emergency

  • allowing regular breaks to allow employees to monitor their blood sugars and administer their dose of insulin

  • providing specialists equipment like screen readers or larger computer monitors to display increased font sizes or screen magnification software for employees who have issues with eye sight associated with diabetes

  • giving time off to attend medical appointments and diabetes education courses


Through our Management Referral Service, the Occupational Health Advisors can advise on reasonable adjustments and provide guidance on how you can support an employee with diabetes on an ongoing basis.


Also, in some job roles employees may need a risk assessment, particularly when in safety-critical environments, as diabetes puts them at risk of having hypoglycaemia (hypo) which can cause dizziness, blurred vision, or confusion. If hypoglycaemia isn’t treated promptly and the blood glucose levels drop low enough, people may even lose consciousness. Therefore, it would be considered best practice for employers to risk assess all employees who are diabetic so that any identified issues can be addressed. It is important that those conducting the risk assessment have both an understanding of the job role and of diabetes and how it is currently managed.


It's worth highlighting that a diabetes diagnosis can be a life-changing event. Pressures of living with a demanding long-term condition, such as taking regular medication and attending frequent appointments can cause emotional stress for an individual. Therefore, signposting staff to available mental health services and resources to manage emotional aspect of diabetes is another supportive measure employers can look to put in place. At Corazon Health we are able to organise both face to face and telephone counselling sessions for your employees. All sessions are conducted by practitioners registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy who can help employee to address feelings and learn ways to cope with challenges. We also offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which provides 24/7, 365 counselling line and medical information line where qualified nurses and advisors are on-hand to offer support and guidance on a range of issues.


Occupational health can also support employers with regular employee screening assessments which can help to catch a condition early on, as not everyone gets symptoms of diabetes. In fact, 6 out of 10 people have no symptoms when they’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Our Diabetes Health Checks can help to identify employees who are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so that they can be directed to their GP for further tests to diagnose diabetes. Diabetes Health Checks can also empower employees to make lifestyle adjustments as a preventative measure.


Since the risk of developing and managing type 2 diabetes is closely linked to lifestyle, employers could also promote ways to eat more healthily and be more active. This could include initiatives such as:

  • offering free fruit

  • providing healthier options at meetings and events

  • providing healthy snacks in vending machines

  • running seminars/webinars on healthy eating

  • offering discounted gym membership

  • starting lunchtime walking group

  • organising onsite fitness sessions

  • promoting walking meetings

  • introducing Cycle to Work scheme


Employers can also make employees aware of information, support and programmes like Better Health which provides support with losing weight and getting more active.


Diet and physical activity not only have an impact on the health and wellbeing of employees but can also increase costs to the business. Employees who are in good health are less likely to need time off work and are likely to be more productive, so there’s a strong incentive to support them to eat well and get more active. Physical activity, healthy eating and healthier weight: a toolkit for employers will provide you with practical, evidence-based guidance on how you can support your employees to improve their health and achieve a healthier working environment.


Diabetes can be a challenging condition that requires continuous monitoring and management. Despite this, individuals with diabetes are employed in the full range of jobs and work successfully. Some employees with diabetes may, at some point, need modifications or adjustments to employment practices or procedures to ensure they remain healthy and productive. Supporting someone with diabetes at work. A guide for employers and colleagues from Diabetes UK can provide you with further information on how diabetes can affect someone in the workplace and what support can be provided. Also, the charity has prepared Work and diabetes. A guide for people with diabetes which has some useful information on employees rights and where they can access additional support.


Man with diabetes
 

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