What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where the level of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Your blood glucose levels are normally controlled by insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas. If you suffer with diabetes your body cannot produce any insulin or not enough to allow glucose to enter the body’s cells to provide energy.
There are two types of diabetes;
Type 1, usually occurs early in life, when the body does not produce insulin. This needs to be replaced, usually with insulin injections.
Type 2, occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin does not work properly. Type 2 diabetes is generally seen in those over 40 but for South Asians and black people, who are at greater risk- this may occur as early 25
The charity Diabetes UK provides a detailed guide to diabetes.
Why is important to know if you are diabetic?
If left uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to a number of organs in the body. It increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney damage. In addition people with diabetes are at increased risk of problems with their feet, legs and eyes.
People living with HIV have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Those living with diabetes or who are glucose intolerant have a reduced ability to control their blood sugar level. Some older antiretroviral drugs have also been associated with an increased risk of diabetes.
What can I do?
If you are concerned you have diabetes, your healthcare team can test for warning signs of diabetes. Speak to your HIV dietitian or doctor because with the correct care diabetes can be prevented and controlled
If you are diagnosed diabetic there are steps you can to undertake to help yourself,
Maintain a healthy weight
Eat a healthy diet
Eat regular meals, aim for three meals a day and never skip breakfast
Take part in regular physical activity
Stay within safe drinking limits
Attend your regular check up appointments
Foods that are produced for diabetics are often expensive and offer no particular benefit.