Will I eventually go blind?
Although Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK, research has proved that the chances of developing complications such as eye damage can be reduced with proper control of blood sugar levels. In addition, it is important to remain active, watch bodyweight and to give up smoking. If you wish to drink alcohol this should be done in moderation and with care, since alcohol lowers the blood sugar level.
Will my children get diabetes?
For Type 1 diabetics it would appear there is a small but increased risk of their children developing diabetes. It is unclear whether Type 2 definitely carries a risk and research continues to try to establish whether there are genetic trends.
Can I still drive?
Diabetics can drive, provided they are responsible and have good control over their condition. They need to inform the DVLA of their condition and it is likely that they will be granted a three-year driving licence renewable subject to satisfactory medical check ups. At renewal, the DVLA will send you a questionnaire to complete and depending on circumstances, you may have to visit your GP or diabetes clinic for a brief medical examination before your licence is renewed. Diabetes UK are presently campaigning against legislation preventing Diabetics driving certain types of vehicle.
Did I catch Diabetes from someone else?
Diabetes is not contagious and cannot be caught like flu or a cold.
Does eating too much sugar cause Diabetes?
Whilst some scientists believe that an excessive intake of sugar can contribute to the development of Diabetes, it is more likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Are diabetics more prone to illness - particularly colds and flu?
No. But, infection does interfere with blood glucose control and for Diabetics, this increases the risk of Ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is the presence of Ketones, which are poisons, in the blood or urine. The condition will require immediate medical attention. Infections do take longer to overcome if you have Diabetes, as the immune system is less effective
Is it true that people with Diabetes cannot eat sweets or chocolate?
This is not strictly true. With proper control of blood sugar levels Diabetics are able to have the occasional treat. Additionally, they may need to eat high-sugar foods to treat low blood glucose levels, in order to avoid a 'Hypo'. A 'Hypo' is the short term for Hypoglycaemia - or low blood sugar. If a Diabetic has a hypo it can lead to unconsciousness and it is therefore vitally important to raise the blood sugar level as quickly as possible. This is why Diabetics carry snacks and some sugar in the form of sweets, glucose tablets, chocolate or a sugary gel product such as 'Hypo-Stop'
Should people with Diabetes eat special Diabetic foods?
No. The healthy diet of Diabetics is the same as that recommended for everyone else - low salt, sugar and fat, meals with starchy foods such as bread, pasta and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Diabetic foods offer no benefit as they still raise sugar levels, are usually more expensive and can have a laxative effect.
Does having diabetes mean that you cannot do certain jobs?
It is true that some jobs are not open to people with Insulin Dependent Diabetes such as;
The armed forces, airline pilot, cabin crew with most airlines, police and fire brigade, steeplejacks and scaffolders, any job that requires a large goods vehicle or passenger carrying licence, working offshore, including work with most big cruise liners, train driving, Post Office jobs that involve driving and taxi driving. If you are already employed in one of these fields however, you may be able to carry on if your diabetes is well controlled and you rarely suffer from hypoglycaemic reactions.
Who is at risk of Diabetes?
Diabetes affects one in three people. Over three-quarters of Diabetics have Type 2 Diabetes.
Both sexes are affected equally. People with a family history of Diabetes, people between the ages of 40 and 75 and people who are overweight, are more prone to developing Diabetes.
How is Diabetes diagnosed?
It is very simple to test for Diabetes - next time you visit your GP ask to be tested. If you are suffering from any or all of the symptoms mentioned above, you should however, visit your Doctor straight away.
What organisation can I join for support?
Diabetes UK is the largest charitable organisation for Diabetics. They fund research, campaign for and help people living with the condition. For further details contact;
Diabetes UK 10 Parkway, London NW1 7AA Website www.diabetes.org.uk