Diabetes fear as sufferers think illness is under control

People with the most common form of diabetes are not controlling the condition, but think they are.

There is now concern that people with type 2 diabetes — a disease caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors — are putting their health at risk because they have been lulled into a false sense of security.

A study by Diabetes Ireland and pharmaceutical company Janssen has found that 70% of people with type 2 diabetes felt they were in control of the condition.

However, the postal survey of 300 Diabetes Ireland Members found that only half had significantly changed their diet and just 35% significantly improved their exercise habits.

Almost a quarter (23%) forgot to take their medication at some stage in the previous month and one in five forgot to take their medication at least once a week.

A healthy diet, regular physical activity, and medications are the primary methods used to manage type 2 diabetes.

Crucially, taking medication as prescribed is essential for good diabetes control and considered to be easier than making significant lifestyle changes.

“Failure of people to take their medications really questions their ability to follow the other essential behaviours of healthy eating and taking regular activity which are more difficult,” said Diabetes Ireland health promotion manager Anna Clarke. “This suggests that although people think they are looking after themselves many may not be taking the proper precautions to control their diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition, causes the body’s blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal causing blood vessel damage over time, if the condition is not well controlled.

It is estimated that more than 225,000 people in Ireland have diabetes and 90% of those, or 205,000, have type 2 diabetes.

The growing levels of obesity, one of the contributing factors in developing type 2 diabetes, will see this number rise to over 250,000 by 20302.

Consultant diabetologist Seamus Sreenan said that the effective treatment of type 2 diabetes required a big change in diet and exercise, as well as constant monitoring.

There might not be any symptoms of diabetes, even if the condition was not well controlled, which was why it was crucial that sufferers knew their level of control and the measures they needed to maintain control.

“Some patients who think they are managing their type 2 diabetes well find that, when they are assessed in our clinics, their condition is not as stable as they think it i,” said Prof Sreenan.

“I would encourage all people living with type 2 diabetes to agree specific targets for sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels with their healthcare professional so that they engage fully to best control their condition.”


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