We can give you a blood glucose result at a cost of £3 to determine whether you have diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. When you eat, a hormone known as insulin is produced by the pancreas to take any glucose out of your blood and move it into your cells, where it is broken down to produce energy. When you have diabetes, your pancreas either does not make enough insulin (as in type 1 diabetes) or the cells in the body do not react properly to insulin as well as it should (as in type 2 diabetes). This causes sugars to build up in your blood. Nearly 95% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
Who is at risk of developing diabetes?
You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if,
- you are over 40 years of age.
- your parent, brother or sister has diabetes
- You are overweight or obese.
- You do not exercise regularly
- Your regulation of blood glucose does not work properly.
- You are of South Asian, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern descent.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar. They include:
- an increased thirst and fluid intake (polydipsia)
- the need to urinate frequently (polyuria)
- an increased appetite (polyphagia)
- blurring of vision (caused by dryness of the eyes)
- feeling tired all the time
- unexplained weight loss
- frequent infections or slow-healing sores
- itchiness around the vagina or penis and
- regular episodes of thrush
In the UK, approximately 2.3 million people have diabetes and it is thought that there are at least half a million more people who have the condition but are not aware of it. It is therefore very important for people who think they might have diabetes to get checked. There is no cure for diabetes however, early diagnoses and treatment to manage the symptoms can prevent high glucose levels from damaging other parts of your body, causing complications.
Why is it important for diabetes to be diagnosed early?
Large amounts of glucose in the body and even a mildly raised glucose level that does not cause any symptoms can have damaging effects in the long term, including:
- heart disease and stroke
- nerve damage
- damage to the retina at the back of the eye ( retinopathy )
- kidney disease
- foot problems
- erection problems in men
- miscarriage and stillbirth
- diabetic ketoacidosis which can eventually cause unconsciousness and even death.
What can I do to reduce my risk of getting diabetes?
There are some changes you can make to your lifestyle to cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future, even if there is a family history of the condition.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. The more overweight you are, the more resistant your body is to insulin.
- Regular exercise. Any amount of activity is better than none at all, so try to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Eating a healthy diet, high in fibre and low in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar. Also, remember to watch your portion size, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat.
We can give you more advice about diet, exercise and lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk of getting diabetes. We also run a lipotrim weight management programme.
What is the next step?
If you think you are at risk of getting diabetes, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, it is important to come to the pharmacy as soon as possible where you will be asked about your symptoms and be tested.
How will I be tested for diabetes?
We do fasting blood glucose test which measures glucose in a person who has not eaten for at least 8 hours. This type of test is most reliable when done in the morning. It is quick and easy. It requires pricking your fingertip with a sterile lancet to get a drop of blood which will then be tested.
A fasting glucose level of less than 6.1mmol/l is negative for diabetes. Between 6.1-6.9mmol/l indicates a form of pre-diabetes called impaired fasting glucose (IFG). Having IFG means a person has an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes but does not have it yet. A level of 7mmol/l or above, confirmed by repeating the test on another day, means a person has diabetes. Whatever the case, we are here to advice you on the next point of action.