GP Dr Sarah Brewer talks about the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes and what you can do if you think you may be at risk.

Britain’s obesity epidemic has led to soaring levels of type 2 diabetes. More than 4 million people in the UK now have diabetes, compared with just 1.8 million in 1998. Around 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2, which is mostly caused by obesity and leading unhealthy lifestyles. Deaths amongst those with type 2 diabetes more than doubled in April, and now due to COVID-19, experts are concerned that tens of thousands of diagnoses have been missed or delayed. When compared to the expected rates, diagnoses across the UK have plunged by 70% since lockdown started.

Now more than ever it is vital to raise awareness of missed diagnoses and encourage the following of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re concerned about type 2 diabetes, GP Dr Sarah Brewer, who works on the medical advisory board for CuraLin, the all-natural supplement that helps maintain balanced glucose levels, shares her advice for spotting the early signs, what steps you can take to manage type 2 diabetes and who is most at risk.

What kind of symptoms should people look out for?

Here are some common symptoms to be aware of…

Feeling more thirsty

Extreme thirst is a common, early symptom of diabetes. It’s tied to high blood sugar levels, which cause thirst on their own, and is exacerbated by frequent urination. Often, drinking won’t satisfy the thirst.

Frequent urination

Also known as polyuria, frequent and/or excessive urination is a sign that your blood sugar levels are high enough to “spill” into your urine. When your kidneys can’t keep up with the amount of glucose, they allow some of it to go into your urine. This makes you have to urinate often, including during the night.

Increased hunger

Intense hunger, or polyphagia, is also an early warning sign of diabetes. Your body uses the glucose in your blood to feed your cells. When this system is broken, your cells can’t absorb the glucose. As a result, your body is constantly looking for more fuel, causing persistent hunger. Because you have so much extra glucose circulating that it comes out in your urine, you may also lose weight, even while eating more and more to appease your hunger. Unexplained weight loss can be its own warning sign of diabetes.

What steps can people take to manage their glucose levels?

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has a major impact on your life. It will involve major changes in your current diet and lifestyle to help bring your blood glucose level down to the target agreed with your doctor. If you don’t take steps to control your blood glucose levels, then you are at risk of serious long-term health complications, including loss of vision, heart disease, kidney disease, leg ulcers and even amputation.

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that needs to be controlled. Lifestyle advice includes following a healthy, more plant-based diet (low fibre, low-glycaemic index with only healthy carbs such as whole grains, pulses, fruit and vegetables), low-fat dairy products and oily fish. Aim to lose at least some excess weight – if you are classed as obese and manage to lose more than 5% of your body weight you may regain blood glucose control.

Exercise more to help burn glucose as fuel, build muscle and promote fat loss. NICE guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, such as brisk walking or cycling (in bouts of 10 minutes or more); or, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (such as running or playing football) spread over the week. Ensure alcohol intake is within healthy limits and, if you smoke, do your utmost to quit to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (which is raised by having diabetes).

Try an all-natural supplement to support a healthy lifestyle

CuraLin (RRP £59.99) is a specially tailored natural formula that promotes healthy and balanced blood sugar levels and insulin production in those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. The nutritional supplement is made from a mixture of ten natural ingredients, which work with the body to help balance the blood sugar profile.

Who is most at risk?

Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity and inactivity – the easiest way to think of it is that over-stuffed fat cells simply can’t absorb any more glucose to convert into fat for storage. It’s estimated that obesity accounts for up to 85 per cent of the overall risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Other risk factors include family history, ethnicity (South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean, black African) a history of gestational diabetes during pregnancy and having certain health conditions such as polycystic ovaries or metabolic syndrome which are associated with insulin resistance.

Many people with type 2 diabetes first go through a stage in which their insulin levels are high (due to insulin resistance) and their ability to handle glucose is poor (glucose levels higher than normal but not yet within the diabetes range). This is known as impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes. They tend to store fat around their waist (apple-shaped), have raised blood fat levels (triglycerides), high blood pressure and increased blood stickiness. This cluster of findings, known as metabolic syndrome, can mean you are at increased risk of developing diabetes – as many as one in two people with impaired glucose tolerance will go on to develop type 2 diabetes if they do not modify their diet and lifestyle. You could have prediabetes if your waist measures more than 94cm (white European males), 90cm (South Asian or Chinese males) or 80cm (females).

What should you do if you are worried about diabetes?

If you think you may be experiencing any of the early signs of type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor as soon as you can. Early diagnosis and swift treatment can significantly reduce the risk of serious and life-threatening complications.