Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common as people become older, often through having unhealthy lifestyles resulting in them being overweight, sometimes with high blood pressure as well. For many, just losing weight and doing exercise can prevent diabetes, but the effect of a poor diet, high in sugar, can affect the body’s ability to cope with the sugar (glucose) in what we eat, and medication may be necessary to overcome this. You may be you more likely to have diabetes if you are from south Asia, the Caribbean, or Africa, or you have a relative with diabetes. Some children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because their poor diet and lack of exercise has led to them becoming overweight or obese.

Changing your diet, reducing weight, and doing exercise as well as taking medication are the main ways in which diabetes is treated. There is further information about this on the NHS: Home website and also Diabetes UK.

Knowing how your body copes with the sugar (glucose) you eat in food is a part of how you can change your diet to a more healthy one. Checking your blood glucose frequently, especially when you are first diagnosed with diabetes, helps you to eat the right kinds of food. Sometimes you may be asked to send your blood glucose readings to your nurse or doctor either by text message (Flo telehealth) or you may have a machine which records the readings, and these can be downloaded when you next attend clinic. Flo can be used to give you advice, remind you to take your medication, send in blood pressure readings as well as those for your blood glucose, or your weight measurements. A video below shows how Flo works.

A number of blood glucose monitors store readings, but these require a pin-prick to test the blood. A new type of patch, the Freestyle Libre, produced by Abbott, can be left on for two weeks. It has a thin fibre permanently inserted into the skin. This monitors blood glucose, and can be scanned by a mobile phone, producing more extensive information about trends in blood glucose. You can see more clearly how lifestyle affects your diabetes, without the need for a pin-prick each time. At present, in most areas, the NHS will not provide the funds to purchase the patches. You can buy them yourself, if you can afford the £93 per month.

Sometimes, you may have a telephone consultation with your nurse or doctor, to check how you are managing, but increasingly Skype will become the preferred way to talk to you, as it is nearer to a face-to-face consultation, yet still having the convenience of not having to travel to a clinic or GP surgery. Have a look at the video below, where a specialist diabetes nurse is having a Skype consultation with a patient, who has also been sending in readings via Flo.

Some GP surgeries have set up closed Facebook groups for patients with diabetes, so that not only will they receive information, but they will also give each other support as they change their lifestyle. Only people invited to join these groups can take part, so they are a safe place where you can be sure that all the other people in the group have diabetes too. It can be a great way to learn from others how to manage changes in your life. A video below of a patient with atrial fibrillation and a nurse describe how Facebook has been used to support patients with this condition.

You may be invited to attend a DESMOND course, which usually involves spending a day learning about diabetes. There are many aspects to find out about, and the course can be very useful. Other information is included in the Diabetes UK and NHS Choices websites mentioned above. There is also a useful app called Manage Your Health, which has a section on diabetes, and it is convenient to have all this information readily available on your phone. See below for details of how to access the app. You can also find more suggestions in the ‘Useful apps for managing type 2 diabetes’ section.