What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus (its name in full) is a common long term condition that affects over 2 million people in the UK. However there are many people who have the condition and don’t know or realise it.
- It is a condition that can result in higher than normal levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
- Glucose (sugar) is a vital energy source for your body, but persistent high levels over long periods of time can potentially damage body tissues and organs.
- The level of glucose (sugar) is controlled and regulated by a hormone that is made by the pancreas. This hormone is called Insulin.
In patients with diabetes the pancreas does not make insulin or enough insulin. In some cases the insulin that is produced is not effective enough.
What is diabetes screening?
Diabetes screening is a process that will help to establish the likelihood or risk that you may possibly have diabetes or develop it at some time in the future.
Why is it important to be screened for diabetes?
If you have diabetes, it is better to know as soon as possible so that the condition can be treated straight away and you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle.
In some cases, it is sufficient to control the condition by a low fat diet, reducing the sugar in your diet and increase in exercise. However, if medication is required then there are many effective and safe tablets available.
If the diabetes remains undiagnosed or uncontrolled then over a period of time it will lead to serious health problems. These include damage to heart, kidneys, eye sight and nerves.
If you are at risk of diabetes, you can take precautionary measures to prevent or delay the onset of the condition. Being aware of the risks, signs and symptoms of diabetes will mean that you are in a better position to benefit from early diagnosis.
What is involved in the screening process?
- Firstly you will be required to complete a short questionnaire and your Numark pharmacist will discuss your responses with you to establish if you are risk or have symptoms of diabetes.
- You will be offered a blood glucose test and will be required to sign and complete a consent form.
- Depending on the result you:
a. Will be offered diet and lifestyle advice that could help to delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. You will be advised to retest within three years (depending on your result and local guidance)
b. Will be given a further morning appointment at the pharmacy for an ‘overnight fasting’ test. Then given advice or referred to your GP for a further diagnostic test.
What is a blood glucose test?
A blood glucose (sugar) test will be carried out by a trained member of staff in the pharmacy. It measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood at the time of the test.
Prior to the test being carried out you should wash your hands in warm water and dry thoroughly. It involves a quick and simple finger-prick test using a single-use disposable finger-pricking device. A tiny drop of blood will be drawn from your finger-tip and applied to a small hand held blood glucose monitoring system.
The result that is displayed within 5 seconds is the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood at that time.
Limitations of the screening process
It is important to note that this diabetes screening service will only tell you your level of glucose (sugar) at the time of the test. It will not diagnose if you have diabetes or not. This can only be made and confirmed by your GP or other suitably qualified healthcare professional when further blood tests have been undertaken.
This service will however, establish if your glucose (sugar) level was higher than it should be, which will then along side any risk factors alert you to the possiblility of the condition.
The screening result can be affected by when and what you have eaten or drunk. Also there can be the possibility of a false high or false low reading.
- Are you over 40 years?
- Are there any other people in your family who have diabetes?
- Are you from an Asian / African background?
- Are you overweight?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you have any heart problems?
- Do you have any problems with your circulation?
- Have you ever suffered with ulcers on your legs and feet?
If you have 2 or more risk factors you may be at increased risk of developing diabetes. Please speak to your Numark Pharmacist for further advice and information.