Let's Talk About Diabetes
More than 20,000 people in West Kent are known to be living with diabetes – and the real figure may be as high as 25,000. But talking about the condition can still be awkward for many. That's why this year's focus for Diabetes Week is to encouraging people to talk about their diabetes, their challenges and concerns.
Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to life-changing complications such as blindness, amputations, heart disease and kidney failure. The NHS estimates that on top of the 20,000 people in West Kent diagnosed with the condition, there may be another 25% who are living with it but have not had it formally diagnosed.
Common symptoms which could be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes include:
Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night.
Being really thirsty.
Feeling more tired than usual.
Losing weight without trying to.
Genital itching or thrush.
Cuts and wounds take longer to heal.
The elderly and diabetes
The prevalence of diabetes rises with age [https://www.diabetes.org.uk/resources-s3/2017-11/diabetes_in_the_uk_2010.pdf], from under 1% of 16-24 year olds to around 13.5% of men aged over 75 and more than 10% of women in the same age group. It's also going up all the time: the number of people diagnosed with the condition has more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to figures published by Diabetes UK [https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/diabetes-prevalence-statistics] in February.
Nine in 10 adults diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2; of these, three in five cases can be delayed or prevented by making healthier lifestyle choices and by securing earlier diagnosis for those known to be at high risk. Preventing, delaying and managing diabetes therefore often starts with open dialogue.
Local support - Chiddingstone Causeway WI ; Let's Talk About Diabetes
The Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks branch of Diabetes UK is a voluntary group that actively helps those with diabetes to learn how best to manage their condition and live full and healthy lives. Last week, the group welcomed Dr Masud Haq, Lead Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology, and Julia Azille, Senior Diabetes Specialist Nurse from the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, to a group meeting looking at changes to diabetes care.
Our Director, Kieron Brennan, is Chairman of our local group. In this role, he gives many talks about Diabetes Awareness, including one this Monday at the Chiddingstone Causeway WI designed to coincide with Diabetes Week. He will also be talking to residents of Rockdale Housing Association in Sevenoaks later in the month.
You can also find out more about our local group at https://tunbridge-wells-area.diabetesukgroup.org/ and get national guidance from www.diabetes.org.uk.
The help is out there. Remember to #talkaboutdiabetes as the first step to managing the condition successfully!