Diabetes is one of the UK’s biggest health crises, and it’s on the rise. Its impact and complications can be devastating, causing blindness, amputations, even early death. But fewer than two in five people think that they or their close family are likely to get diabetes. They aren’t concerned about diabetes, and they don’t understand or know what it is.
Shirley and Mick Mitchell, from Cheam along with leading charity Diabetes UK is aiming to change this, to make people sit up and take notice during Diabetes Week, which will take place from Sunday 11 June to Saturday 17 June. The charity’s theme for Diabetes Week 2017, ‘Know Diabetes, Fight Diabetes’, reflects this call for change, asking others to join the campaign to make it happen.
Shirley said: “Make no mistake, diabetes is a serious condition, but there are things you can do to help manage it and avoid developing serious complications.”
Earlier this year Shirley and Mick were nominated for ‘Reaching Out and Connecting People’ Diabetes UK Inspire Award in recognition of their hard work. They are always the first to volunteer to speak at an event or run a stall regardless of the distance. They both sit on the Wimbledon local group committee. They ensure the group meetings always have interesting speakers, the finances are in order, the newsletter is sent out and much more.
They are happy to travel to help with talks, Roadshows and other events and even go on local radio to promote good diabetes care. They have learnt Makaton to communicate with children with special needs and often go into schools to give talks as well.
In a nutshell, diabetes means the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high because your body can’t use it properly for energy. This happens because the pancreas either doesn’t produce any insulin, enough insulin, or the insulin it does produce doesn’t work properly.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions, caused by different things.
About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 1, which means they can’t produce insulin. Type 1 is not to do with being overweight and it’s not preventable.
People with Type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly. One of the biggest risk factors for Type 2 is being overweight; age, ethnicity and family history can also have an impact.
Following a healthy diet and lifestyle is really important, as is taking appropriate medications. This will help to manage your blood sugar, blood fat and blood pressure levels, which will reduce your risk of diabetes complications.
Getting the right health checks is vital. They show you how your diabetes is progressing, help to spot signs of complications as early as possible and identify changes to help prevent complications. If you are living with diabetes, do have a look at Diabetes UK’s 15 Healthcare essentials to see you are getting the checks and tests which can help.
To get involved and find out more about diabetes during Diabetes Week, you can:
- Find out what your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes is. It takes less than three minutes to use Diabetes UK’s popular online questionnaire, Know Your Risk.
- Sign up for a free Diabetes UK education course to polish up your knowledge
- Become a Diabetes UK volunteer and connect with others living with the condition
- Engage with us on Twitter during the week, using the hashtag #diabetesweek
Diabetes UK is fighting to achieve change – from variation in care and support for people with diabetes, to challenging the stigma and discrimination caused by lack of understanding of the condition.
During Diabetes Week, you can help Diabetes UK fight the condition in lots of ways:
- Sign up for the 1 Million Step Challenge and commit to raising funds over three months
- Campaign to fight diabetes by joining Diabetes Voices to create positive change for people with and at risk of diabetes
- Play a vital role by taking part in a diabetes trial or study
For more information visit www.diabetes.org.uk