Diabetes Week

A focus on health and wellbeing

Celebrating Diabetes Week

Diabetes Week is taking place from the 13th -19th of June. Its aim is to raise awareness of the condition and celebrate the millions of people who are living with diabetes every day.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious condition that can affect anyone, from any walk of life. Numbers are dramatically increasing, with 3.8 million people with a diagnosis in the UK and 463 million worldwide.

Diabetes is a condition that causes higher than normal blood sugar levels. Diabetes occurs when your body cannot make or effectively use its own insulin. Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the sugar (glucose) from the food you eat to enter. Then, your body uses that glucose for energy. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease, but there are also other kinds, such as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, as well as other forms.

  • type 1 diabetes –where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
  • type 2 diabetes –where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body's cells do not react to insulin

"Your blood sugar won’t always be in range. Figuring out food labels and menus might have you tearing your hair out. And you might have treated that 3am hypo with a few too many jelly babies. (And biscuits. Oh, and that sandwich...) But you’re doing it, every single day. Living with diabetes, juggling the ups and downs. And that’s worth celebrating.

So, this Diabetes Week, let’s celebrate you, the millions of people going through the same things, and everyone who’s there to support you along the way." - Diabetes UK

Warning signs of type 1 diabetes:

The following symptoms may appear suddenly and are too severe to overlook:
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination (bed-wetting may occur in children who have already been toilet trained)•Rapid and unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Unusual irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Unpleasant breath odour
  • Itchy skin

Warning signs of type 2 diabetes

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to those of type 1 diabetes. But the onset of type 2 diabetes is usually slower, and the symptoms are not as noticeable as those for type 1 diabetes. For these reasons, many people mistakenly overlook the warning signs. They also might think that the symptoms are the signs of other conditions, like aging, overworking or hot weather.

Living with diabetes

On the NHS website it advises that people living with Diabetes should try to eat healthily, exercise regularly and carry out regular blood tests to ensure their blood glucose levels stay balanced. Managing diabetes, making changes, and fitting the demands of diabetes into a lifestyle can be challenging at times, here's some advice from Diabetes UK that can help:

Support from other people

  • Talk about feelings with family and friends –they may be concerned and wish to help
  • Involve family and friends in the understanding and care for diabetes –they may be able to help
  • Ask someone to go with you to your healthcare team appointment especially if they care for you
  • Get to know other people with diabetes
  • Join one of Diabetes UK’s local groups, take part in a support weekend or discussion forum on the internet

Taking control

  • Get the information you need
  • Be honest: give accurate information about your health and how you are really feeling
  • Set goals: put into everyday practice the goals you may have agreed in your care plan
  • Know when, where and how to contact your diabetes healthcare team
  • Carry some form of medical identification about your diabetes

Benefits of exercising for diabetes

There are many benefits of being active when you have type 1, type 2 or other types of diabetes. Moving more can:

  • help the body use insulin better by increasing insulin sensitivity
  • help you look after your blood pressure, because high blood pressure means you’re more at risk of diabetes complications
  • help to improve cholesterol (blood fats) to help protect against problems like heart disease
  • help you lose weight if you need to, and keep the weight off after you’ve lost it
  • give you energy and help you sleep •help your joints and flexibility
  • help your mind as well as your body -exercise releases endorphins, which you could think of as happy hormones. Being active is proven to reduce stress levels and improve low mood
  • help people with type 2 diabetes improve their HbA1c. In some cases, this can help people with the condition go into remission
Man on treadmill with others in the background

We're here to support you!

We hope this article has given you some insight and guidance into diabetes and spread awareness about this widespread health condition. If you would like some more guidance on implementing a healthy, active lifestyle, Sport England’s ‘We Are Undefeatable’ campaign offers support to those with long-term health conditions. Diabetes UK also offers a huge scope of resources in an aim to tackle the diabetes crisis, prevent Type 2 diabetes and support everyone affected by it.

Sources: Diabetes UK | We Are Undefeatable | NHS –Diabetes