Diabetes is estimated to affect more than 4 million people in the UK, and is set to rise to 5 million before 2025. Prescription Doctor offers a number of treatments for diabetes, which are dispensed from a UK pharmacy and delivered in discreet packaging.Find treatments Read more Learn how we work
Diabetes is a condition which causes high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Glucose, which we get from our diets, is our bodies' main source of fuel. It is used by the millions of cells in our bodies to perform their functions - whether that's keeping our bodies the right temperature or generating new cells.
After eating carbohydrates, acids and enzymes in the stomach digest the food and break it apart, breaking it down into lipids (fats) and glucose (sugars).
The contents of the stomach are moved through the intestine. Cells on the inside of the intestinal wall absorb the glucose, moving it from the digestive tract and into the bloodstream.
Once in the bloodstream, the glucose can either be used by cells throughout the body or converted into glycogen by the liver to be used later.
In order for the cells to use the glucose, a hormone called insulin is required. This hormone is made in the pancreas and released into the bloodstream. Insulin is needed to move glucose from the blood to the cells, where it can be used as energy.
Insulin is the hormone which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. It acts as a carrier to move the molecules of glucose into the cells, which use or "burn" the glucose to carry out their functions. Without a regular supply of glucose, cells struggle to function normally. This causes cell regeneration to slow down, meaning that cuts may take longer to heal.
The amount of insulin in the body is regulated and dependent on how much glucose is present in the blood. Before a meal, your blood glucose level may be between 70 and 120 milligrams per decilitre of blood.
After eating a meal, it's common for glucose levels to peak to a high 180mg/dL, though this should usually drop back down to the normal range of 70 to 120mg/dL.
In people with type 2 diabetes, there is either an insufficient amount of insulin in the body to manage the level of glucose in the blood or the insulin their body produces is ineffective at reducing their blood glucose level.
Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas fails to make insulin. Because their body does not produce insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes will need to inject insulin.
If diabetes is left untreated, a number of complications can arise.
Having a high amount of glucose in the blood increases the risk of heart disease and stroke as it affects the circulatory system.
The complications of diabetes may be exacerbated in those who smoke. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it would be beneficial to quit smoking.
Other complications attributed to diabetes include:
Excessive glucose in the blood can damage the nervous system over time, resulting in a condition called diabetic neuropathy.
This damage can result in numbness, tingling or pain in the extremities - particularly the feet.
It is important to take extra care of your feet if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Injuries to your feet can take longer to heal. As a result, infections such as gangrene are more likely to set in.
You should make sure your feet are kept clean and dry. Avoid going outdoors bare foot, wearing ill-fitting shoes or putting your feet at risk of injury.
If you notice any changes to your feet, such as numbness, pain, cuts, cracks or blisters, speak to your doctor or diabetes nurse.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes which affects the eyes. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. This condition occurs when blood vessels at the back of your eye bleed.
You will need to undergo regular diabetic eye screening to monitor your risk. Diabetic eye screening is different to check-ups from opticians which check your eyesight.
If caught early, diabetic retinopathy can be slowed down or halted to prevent further damage from the eyes. However, if the condition is not caught in time, there is an increased risk that the condition can affect your eyesight, resulting in blurred vision, sensitivity to light, or floating dark blobs in your vision.
If you notice any changes to your vision, you should speak to your GP or diabetes nurse.
While undergoing treatment for diabetes, the level of blood sugar will need to be regularly monitored. This can be done at home using a blood glucose meter.
How you use your blood glucose meter will depend on the make and model, though most of them will use test strips and will require a blood sample.
Insert a test strip into the blood glucose meter so that you are ready to collect the blood.
Using a lancet, pierce the side of your finger tip.
Hold the test strip near to the blood drop. You don't need to apply pressure. As soon as the test strip comes in contact with the blood, the drop of blood will be soaked up by the test strip.
Wait for a few seconds and the meter should produce a reading. The length of time it takes for the reading to show up, as well as the unit of measurement, will depend on the make and model of your meter.
If you are unsure about how to take a reading from your meter, or what the reading means, speak to your doctor for further advice.
It's important for your healthcare provider to be able to see how your blood levels have changed throughout your course of treatment.
Your blood glucose meter may store your readings into internal memory for your healthcare provider to review at a later date.
Alternatively, your doctor may advise you to make note of your readings in a diary.
It may be additionally useful to track your blood glucose meter readings alongside what you ate in a food diary. This can provide further context as to why blood sugar levels were higher on some days and lower on others. Your doctor can use this information to provide advice based on your individual needs, including appropriate and actionable adjustments to diet and lifestyle habits.
Your condition will be reviewed by your GP on a regular basis.
Hypoglycaemia, commonly referred to as a "hypo", is when the level of glucose in the blood drops dangerously low - usually below 4mmol/L.
A hypo can come on suddenly without warning, so it's vital to know what the signs are and what you should do if I start to have a hypo.
Symptoms of hypoglycaemia include:
Further information about hypos and what you should do if you have a hypo can be found here.
Speak to your doctor or diabetes nurse for more advice on what to do in the case of a hypo.
Not quite. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be reversed with appropriate changes to diet and exercise. However, type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent) is an autoimmune disease which cannot be cured.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be controlled with changes in diet and exercise, as well as medication.
For advice on managing diabetes, speak to your doctor.
It is estimated that more than 4 million people in the UK have diabetes, and this estimate is expected to rise to 5 million by 2025. 90% of cases are for type 2 diabetes, which is often preventable through adjustments to diet and exercise. The remaining 10% are type 1 diabetes.
Studies have shown that metformin, a drug to treat diabetes, and orlistat, a drug to treat obesity, have similar effects on weight loss.
In a 1 year, multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of orlistat in obese patients being treated for type 2 diabetes with metformin, it was shown that orlistat was a "useful adjunctive treatment".
Prescription Doctor makes it easy for you to buy metformin and other diabetes treatments online without hassle.
Our UK registered pharmacy stocks a number of antidiabetic drugs, including:
Our online private prescription service offers a next-day discreet delivery service to ensure the strictest confidence.
You should speak to your doctor before taking any new medications or making major adjustments to your diet.
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