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GPs help to combat the diabetes legacy

11 June 2015


Bedfordshire diabetes expert Dr Taru Patel has described diabetes as a silent disease which can have a devastating legacy if diagnosis is delayed.

With numbers continuing to rise, Dr Patel who is clinical diabetes lead for NHS Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) and a GP, urges anyone with symptoms such as: excessive thirst, passing urine more often, unexplained weight loss, or who is aged over 40 and carrying extra weight, especially around the tummy to see their GP for a health check. Many people have no obvious symptoms of the disease which affects 3.8 million people in the UK.

Dr Patel explained: “We sometimes talk about the legacy effect of diabetes because the earlier it is picked up and kept under control, the better. Prompt diagnosis can minimise the effect it has in shortening people’s lives.

“Uncontrolled diabetes gets progressively worse, and without treatment can lead to kidney disease, blindness, heart disease and stroke, limb amputation and can cause premature death. Regular monitoring and advice from diabetes clinics at your local GP surgery are important ways to help to maintain the health of diabetic patients.

Bedfordshire woman Susan Dayer was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 12 years ago and has worked hard to manage the condition.

Susan says: “I know how important it is to eat a healthy diet and take exercise to keep my diabetes under control. I recently had a hip operation and although I enjoy walking, the reduced mobility while I recover from surgery has affected my diabetes and made it more of a struggle to control. The advice and support from my GP and the practice nurses has been excellent. The regular health checks, and information from the Desmond workshop run by the L&D Hospital were incredibly helpful.”

Specialist diabetes nurse Abbi Bown at Leighton Road surgery in Leighton Buzzard advises people not to be tempted by extreme diets or to buy costly so-called diabetic foods.

Abbi says: “It’s much more important to eat a healthy, balanced diet and take some exercise. We can support patients with dietary advice and give regular checks to monitor how well the diabetes is managed. The trouble with many foods labelled as low fat, is that they are often loaded with hidden sugar, so you do need to check carefully.”

Another Bedfordshire resident, Amanda Johnson, developed diabetes suddenly, following a severe infection. She relies on insulin injections and urges people to take this lifelong disease more seriously.

She said: “I love to read and my biggest fear is that diabetes could rob me of my sight, so the annual retina scan at hospital to check the health of my eyes and pick up early signs of any problems is really important to me.

“Many people do not realise how dangerous and frightening a hypo is, when your blood sugar level drops too low. It is a horrible experience, so if your diabetic friend feels unwell and has symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, trembling or is unable to concentrate, they could be having a hypo. Help them to take care as a hypo can lead to coma and even be fatal. A sugary drink followed by a short rest and a snack to restore blood sugar levels helps.”

As well as the support of the GP and practice nurses, there is a wealth of information on the Diabetes UK website https://www.diabetes.org.uk/

Photo caption: Bedfordshire patient Susan Dayer has a blood pressure check by specialist diabetes nurse Abbi Bown at a diabetes clinic held at her local GP surgery.

For more information contact Katrina Grant 01525 864406/ 01525 864430 or 07813 969786 or email communications@bedfordshirecg.nhs.uk

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