Diabetes – the new epidemic

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Monday 25th January 2010

With the first study of diabetes within NHS hospitals conducted, the results appear worse than everyone expected. The current diabetes rate within the UK is thought to be around 4%, yet within hospitals this rate is dramatically increased by five times to 20%, therefore showing that around one in every five hospital patients are suffering from the disease. However, it is also being questioned as to whether or not doctors are becoming all too ready to diagnose a patient with diabetes when it isn’t necessary.

The majority of these hospital cases will be admitted into hospital with something unrelated to diabetes whilst others will be treated directly for their diabetes having fallen into a blood-sugar induced coma. Regardless of why they were admitted into hospital, diabetes is treated with great concern by many doctors as the disease can increase the chances of strokes and heart attacks by a staggering five times. With the rate of obesity also increasing, much of the blame is being pointed here towards unhealthy lifestyles as the majority of type 2 diabetes cases are due to unhealthy aspects of our lifestyles; e.g. smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise and so on. As the disease poses a great risk to many of the patients, the NHS budgets are being stretched as far as possible to help ensure these patients are treated quickly and efficiently. However, if the current rate continues as it does by 2025 the amount of diabetes sufferers is thought to be a whopping 4 million (with 2.6 million now). Doctors also warn that this high amount of people will be costing the NHS a quarter of their budget.

Furthermore, following other news this week, half of the people diagnosed a year are not aware that they were suffering from diabetes. Whilst the affects can be minimal and go unnoticed, particularly if you are not looking for them, some skeptics are suggesting that doctors are too quick to stamp diabetes on their patients forehead instead of suggesting simple solutions. What skeptics do suggest is that if it is clear someone is suffering from a mild case of diabetes, a healthy lifestyle should be implemented alongside loss of weight and they should find themselves a whole lot better. Perhaps more worryingly is the misdiagnosis of “fitter” patients who are showing themselves to be just marginally above the normal blood-sugar readings. Skeptics are suggesting that if people who are fit and healthy and have no complaints are finding themselves being diagnosed with diabetes, they should ask for a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) to completely rectify the situation.

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