The charity Diabetes UK predict that if nothing changes, by 2030 5.5 million people will be living with diabetes in the UK. This is 8% of the population of the UK, and this is unacceptable. Did you know, there are currently 850,000 people living with type 2 diabetes in the UK who are yet to be diagnosed? Diabetes leads to 9600 lower limb amputations every year – 185 a week! Care professionals are ideally placed to recognise and respond to signs and symptoms of diabetes and it’s complications which is why we’ve included this section for your information. Please also follow this link for information on upcoming diabetes awareness courses.
Blood sugar and diabetes
The human body requires a very precise balance of sugar in our blood in order to fuel our daily activities and give our vital organs energy. If our blood sugars drop too low or rise too high, this can cause an individual to become very unwell. Signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugars can be found below:
Low blood sugars
Left untreated, low blood sugars can lead to diabetic coma and death, therefore it is important to recognise when an individual you support could be unwell with low blood sugars. Signs and symptoms are extremely varied, but can include extreme hunger, shaking/trembling, heart palpitations, becoming irritable, sweating and can eventually progress to seizures and loss of consciousness. If you suspect low blood sugars, it is important to get advice and support quickly. For more details about low blood sugars, please see this link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-blood-sugar-hypoglycaemia/
High blood sugars
Over time, high blood sugars can lead to irreversible, severe damage to various organs including the kidneys, heart, brain and eyes. Extremely high blood sugar, particularly when someone also has an infection, can cause an individual to become extremely unwell. Symptoms of high blood sugar (including undiagnosed diabetes) can include frequently passing urine, feeling very thirsty, weight loss, and fatigue. Symptoms of extremely high blood sugars that need urgent treatment include all of the above, plus nausea and vomiting, breathlessness, drowsiness, confusion and breath that smells fruity, like pear drop sweets. If you suspect someone has high blood sugars, it is important to get advice and support quickly. Please see this link for further information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-sugar-hyperglycaemia/
Diabetes UK had a great selection of resources and training materials for care homes – Click here to visit.
- Good clinical practice guidelines for care home residents with diabetes
- TREND and IDOP: Diabetes and dementia: Guidance on practical management
- End of life diabetes care: Clinical care recommendations