With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, and appointments for non-urgent care more difficult to access, home blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health.
With diabetes on the rise in the UK, it’s estimated that the number of people living with the disease will reach 5 million by 2025.
The cases of type 2 diabetes, which is linked to diet and lifestyle, are increasing particularly fast, making it one of the most common health conditions across the world.
With the condition becoming ever more prevalent, and its close links to preventable factors, it’s important to understand the risks and the signs to look out for.
Here are some key things to understand about diabetes
1. There are different types
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar rises, your pancreas releases insulin, but this process can be interrupted, leading to complications that cause diabetes.
Diabetes takes different forms, which results in the need for different treatments and methods of managing the condition.
Type 1 diabetes - In type 1 diabetes, which is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, and young adults, the cells of the pancreas can no longer make insulin because they have been destroyed by the body's immune system.
- Type 2 diabetes - The more common form of the disease, Type 2 diabetes is associated with excess weight, a sedentary lifestyle, or a family history of the condition.
2. You can develop diabetes at any stage in life
Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to lifestyle factors, can develop at any age, but most often in middle-aged and older. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight or obese.
3. You can develop a type of diabetes in pregnancy
As well as Type 1 and 2 diabetes, it’s also possible to develop a form of diabetes during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes happens when your body cannot produce enough insulin to meet your extra needs in pregnancy. It can happen at any stage of pregnancy but is more common in the second or third trimester and usually goes away after the baby’s birth.
Gestational diabetes can cause problems during pregnancy and after birth, but the risks can be reduced if the condition is detected early and well managed.
4. Diabetes is increasingly common
According to Diabetes UK, there 3.8 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK, and 90% of those are living with Type 2.
There are almost a million more undiagnosed people living with Type 2 diabetes, bringing the total number up to 4.7 million.
5. The symptoms are often ignored
It’s not uncommon for diabetes to go undiagnosed because of the symptoms, while inconvenient, don’t necessarily make you feel unwell. It’s often easy to dismiss many of the symptoms as the result of stress or other factors.
Signs to look out for include:
- blurred vision peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- feeling thirsty all the time
- feeling very tired
- itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- losing weight without trying to
6. Having diabetes doesn’t mean sugar is totally off the menu
When we think of diabetes, we tend to imagine a total ban on sugar. But this isn’t always the case, it just takes a little bit more awareness and planning.
Counting carbohydrates every time you eat is a vital part of maintaining normal blood glucose levels. When planned as part of a meal, a small amount of a high-sugar food can be substituted for other carbohydrates, such as skipping an extra piece of bread or eating less pasta, rice, or potatoes.
It's also important to remember that swapping real sugar with sweeteners or choosing “sugar-free” foods does not mean a food is carbohydrate free. These foods may contain sugar alcohols, which can increase your blood glucose levels.
Could you be at risk? A quick and easy way to find out
Untreated, diabetes can lead to a host of health issues, which is why early diagnosis is important, giving you the information needed to help prevent more serious problems from developing.
With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, private blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health and wellbeing. At Blue Horizon we offer a comprehensive range of home to laboratory blood tests you can take in the comfort of your own home, providing you with clear, accurate results.
Our home Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) blood test takes a measurement of glucose levels in your blood. This is more advanced than a simple blood glucose test, which only gives a snapshot view.
Glucose attaches itself to the red blood cells, and as these red cells exist for around 8-12 weeks, the information about the amount of glucose attached can provide an idea of the level of sugar in your blood in recent weeks.
Knowing this background level of glucose is important if you’re looking to monitor or diagnose type 2 diabetes. This test also demonstrates how well controlled blood sugar levels are being managed for people already diagnosed with diabetes.
How our home blood testing service works
Ordering a home blood test is easy. Simply place your order online or over the phone with our friendly team. A kit will be posted out to you, containing everything you need to take a small blood sample. Then, simply return the sample to us for testing in our accredited laboratory.
If you’d prefer a qualified professional to take your blood sample for you, we can arrange a home visit from a qualified phlebotomist.
Clear, accurate results
The time it takes to receive your results will depend on the type of test you have chosen. When they are ready, your results will be sent directly to you, via email, within the time specified. If you would prefer to receive a paper copy of your results through the post, that can be arranged for you.