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West Middlesex sets the record straight on diabetes

15 June 2016

Throughout Diabetes Week (12–18 June) West Middlesex University Hospital is raising awareness and busting common myths about the condition which affects 1 in 5 of the hospital’s inpatients.

Photo: Parminder Rihal, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Diabetes at West Middlesex University Hospital providing diabetes information and advice to patients on 14 June

Throughout Diabetes Week (12–18 June) West Middlesex University Hospital is raising awareness and busting common myths about the condition which affects 1 in 5 of the hospital’s inpatients.

In the UK there are 3.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes and a further 3,549,000 people who are living with the condition but are unaware that they have it. By 2025, it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes in the UK. For the next generation, it will be the biggest preventable killer in the Western world, overtaking premature deaths from smoking, obesity and heart disease.

The theme for this year’s Diabetes Week is to encourage clear, straight-talking information about the condition, as there are many myths surrounding diabetes, most of which are untrue. For instance, it is untrue that eating too much sugar causes diabetes; however, it may cause obesity, which is linked to people developing type 2 diabetes. Similarly, stress does not cause diabetes, although it may be a trigger for the body turning against itself, as in type 1 diabetes. But it does make the symptoms worse for people who already have diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 diabetes—90% of adults with diabetes have type 2—which is a preventable condition that claims a life every eight seconds.

Incidence of diabetes is relatively high in Hounslow and Richmond and patients with diabetes can be found in any of the wards throughout the hospital. West Middlesex has four consultants and one nurse specialising in diabetes as well as a wide array of services and expert medical advice for patients.

Foundation Trust members are also invited to learn more about diabetes at the upcoming Your Health event entitled Diabetese: Introduction and Update. Held by Rashmi Kaushal, Consultant Endocrinologist, and colleagues at West Middlesex University Hospital, the health education talk will provide members with expert medical advice about how to prevent and manage the condition. The event takes place on Tuesday 28 June from 5:30–6:30pm at the West Middlesex University Hospital Education Centre conference room.

Parminder Rihal (Clinical Nurse Specialist in Diabetes at West Middlesex) said: “There are many myths surrounding diabetes, therefore education is essential in helping people to prevent or delay the onset of the condition. In patients with diagnosed diabetes, we need to provide a very high level of care and guidance to prevent the various complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, amputation and kidney failure.

“The younger someone is when they develop diabetes, the more likely it is over time that they will develop complications. However, making lifestyle changes can really improve a patient’s life expectancy and quality of life—losing as little as 5kgs has been shown to reduce mortality by 10%.

“We advise everyone to stop smoking and exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week. Also, if you are overweight, you should try to diet to lose some weight. People should set themselves small achievable targets because even a little weight loss or a small increase in the amount of exercise can make a big difference to life expectancy.”

It is important that everyone is aware of diabetes and know what symptoms to look out for. The signs and symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst 
  • Increased frequency of urination—especially at night 
  • Extreme tiredness 
  • Weight loss 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush 
  • Slow healing of wounds