THOUSANDS of people are likely living with type 2 diabetes with no idea.
The condition can go undetected because its symptoms are hard to spot, or brushed off as something else.
People can live for up to 10 years with type 2 diabetes – the most common type – before being diagnosed, charities say.
Already some 4.9 million people in the UK are estimated to have diabetes, of which there are various forms.
Of those, an estimated 850,000 people are living with type 2 diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed – a figure up 150,000 in the last year, according to Diabetes UK.
A further 2.1 million people have a blood sugar level that is higher than normal, but not bad enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, called prediabetes or borderline diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is when the insulin the pancreas makes can’t work properly, or the pancreas can’t make enough insulin. This means blood glucose (sugar) levels become too high.
The serious condition, driven by soaring obesity levels, raises the odds of Covid death, heart attacks and strokes among other complications.
According to the NHS, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes to watch out for include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Getting cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Having blurred vision
These are the most common signs and typically reported by those suffering the condition.
But there are a number of other more rare symptoms that may alert you to this disease.
- Dark skin patches
- Frequent infections
- Itchy skin
- Dry mouth
- Sweet breath
- Tingling or numbness
- Bad teeth
The NHS urges people to see their GP if they have any of the symptoms of diabetes, or thinks they may be heading for a diagnosis based on risk factors.
It says you're more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you are over 40 years old, or over 25 years old if from south Asian descent.
If you have a relative with diabetes, are overweight or of Asian, African-Caribbean or black African origin (even if you were born in the UK), then you are also facing higher odds of diagnosis.
You can take the "Know Your Risk" for type 2 diabetes quiz here.
The rapid quiz asks about age, weight, if someone in the family has diabetes and if you have been told you have high blood pressure, for example.
It will then give a score between zero and 47 points.
The higher the risk level, the more likely it is that person will develop type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years. For example, one out of four people with high risk will get type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years.
If someone’s score is moderate or high they can refer themselves to a local service for support remotely or online, without having to go through a healthcare professional.
It doesn't necessarily mean someone has prediabetes – when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.
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