A new survey by Bupa has revealed that 68% of people tend to assume that nothing is wrong with them, even if they have what they consider to be 'minor symptoms' of type 2 diabetes.
With over 850,000 people in Britain thought to have undiagnosed diabetes, the private healthcare service is trying to raise awareness so that people take a look at their lifestyles and visit their GP if in doubt that they may be at risk.
HuffPost UK Lifestyle spoke to Dr Tim Woodman, a medical director at Bupa who said: "Most people seem to be are aware of what leads to type 2 diabetes, for example their lifestyle choices, but 54% of people say they ignore the long-term health consequences.
"They are also mindful of the symptoms, and over a third (35%) of people say they have symptoms linked with Type 2 diabetes. But worryingly we found that over two thirds (68%) of people assume nothing is wrong and will not visit a doctor if they have what they consider to be ‘minor’ symptoms, commonly associated with Type 2 diabetes- which is a must."
Some of the symptoms of diabetes include feeling tired and thirsty, and Dr Woodman highlights that the problem with this is that it comes on gradually, so most people don't notice it comes on at all.
But aside from symptoms, the survey also unearthed the worrying fact that a staggering 89% of Brits make lifestyle choices that greatly increase the chance of diabetes. These included eating a lot of sugary foods and not doing enough exercise.
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There are several risk factors, says Dr Woodman.
- You are over 40 (or over 25 if you are South Asian)
- You have a close family member with diabetes (parent, brother or sister)
- You are overweight, with a large waist size (over 80cm (31.5 inches) for women, 94cm (37 inches) for men, or 89cm (35 inches) for South Asian men)
- Being South Asian, Black African, African Caribbean – even if you were born in the UK
- You have ever had high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke
- You're a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome and overweight
- f you're a woman and you've had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby over 10 pounds
He adds: "Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be hereditary, so if a close member of your family has the conditions you should have regular check ups. While some risk factors such as age, gender and ethnicity can't be changed – making lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your risk.
"We know that up to 80% of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented, and risk can be reduced by up to 60% after making some basic lifestyle changes. If you are overweight, every kilogram you lose could reduce your risk by up to 15%. Be more conscious of your diet and exercise – small changes can make a big difference."
SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2:
- feeling very thirsty
- urinating frequently, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itchiness around the vagina or penis, or regular bouts of thrush (a yeast infection)
- blurred vision that is caused by the lens of your eye becoming very dry
- skin infections
Source: NHS.UK/Diabetes UK