Dr Kate Gajewska
Clinical Manager for Advocacy and Research, Diabetes Ireland
More than half a billion people are living with diabetes worldwide and one in three families is affected by diabetes in Ireland.
One in 10 people around the world has diabetes, a chronic condition listed by the World Health Organization in the top 10 leading causes of deaths globally. It is important to know that when diagnosed early and managed well people can live long and healthy lives.
The surge of diabetes – any type, any age
Diabetes occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood because of a lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or insulin is not working properly (type 2 diabetes). The most common type of diabetes is type 2.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include age, family history sedentary behaviours, obesity/overweight, stress and previously having gestational diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in adults and its incidence increases with age. Type 1 diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic illnesses in children and adolescents but is diagnosed in people of all age-groups. It is an autoimmune condition not preventable and its causes are unknown.
Awareness and education
Type 2 diabetes is often treated with lifestyle modifications (healthy eating, exercise and weight management) combined with medication if required. With type 1 diabetes, insulin therapy is a must – it requires daily (multiple) insulin dosing (via injections or an insulin pump) and frequent (or continuous) glucose monitoring in order to decide about the doses.
The insulin doses are calculated based on the meal content, exercise, stress levels and many other factors. In both types, diabetes education and support are instrumental in helping the individual to self-manage their condition daily and achieve recommended blood glucose values.
Early recognition of diabetes and medical intervention are necessary to live long and healthy lives, and to avoid short and long-term diabetes-related complications.
Recognise the symptoms
Early recognition of diabetes and medical intervention are necessary to live long and healthy lives, and to avoid short and long-term diabetes-related complications. One of the most serious complications is diabetes keto-acidosis (DKA) – it results from insulin deficiency and is life-threatening. It often occurs at the time of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. According to the Irish Childhood Diabetes National Register, in 2020, over 40% of newly diagnosed children with diabetes had DKA. It could have been avoided, if the symptoms were recognised sooner.
Know the signs
Therefore, the TEST campaign was launched to raise awareness of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. TEST represents the following: thirst (increased), energy (reduced), sudden (weight change) and toilet (trips increased). These symptoms are key indications that a person might have diabetes and a simple finger-prick blood glucose test is required urgently.We hope that this simple acronym will help you to more easily remember and recognise the symptoms of diabetes and take action when these are noticed. If so, contact your GP immediately, or talk to your pharmacist.