Today is World Diabetes Day, a global event designed to increase awareness about diabetes with the involvement of over 200 diabetic member associations, in over 160 different countries. World Diabetes Day was jointly introduced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Each year has its own theme and for World Diabetes Day 2017 it is "Women and diabetes - our right to a healthy future", designed to improve the affordability and accessibility for diabetes care worldwide to help women with diabetes better manage their condition.

At Freeths we also would like to raise awareness of diabetes and the potential implications of incorrect management of the condition. There are a large number of different types of diabetes, although those most commonly known are Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where the blood glucose level is too high because the body cannot make a hormone called insulin. It is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks and destroys the cells that make insulin, so the body stops making it. We need insulin to help move glucose out of our blood and into our cells, so we can use it for energy. Without insulin, blood glucose levels get too high. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, but it can develop at any age. 

Type 2 diabetes is also a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high. This is because your body does not make enough insulin, or the insulin does not work properly.  Insulin moves glucose out of our blood and into our cells, so we can use it for energy. Without enough insulin, blood glucose levels get too high. Family history, age and ethnic background affects the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a patient is more likely to develop it if they are overweight. Type 2 diabetes starts gradually, usually later in life, although it can be diagnosed at a younger age. It is the most common type of diabetes in adults. 

Generally a patient with Type 1 diabetes will need to treat the condition with insulin, whereas a patient with Type 2 diabetes may initially be able to manage their condition with diet and exercise. There are a number of treatments available to help manage and control diabetes. Everybody is different, so treatment will vary depending on an individual’s needs.

Another common type of diabetes is Gestational Diabetes. This is a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women, usually during the second or third trimester.The hormones produced during pregnancy can make it difficult for the body to use insulin properly, this puts a pregnant patient at an increased risk of insulin resistance. Some pregnant women are less able to produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance. This makes it difficult to use glucose properly for energy, so the glucose remains in the blood and the levels rise, leading to gestational diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes do not have diabetes before their pregnancy, and after giving birth it usually goes away. In some women diabetes may be diagnosed in the first trimester, and in these cases the condition most likely existed before pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed through a blood test at 24–28 weeks into pregnancy. With good management of gestational diabetes, a patient has better chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Mismanagement of diabetes can result in short term complications such as hypoglycaemia, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS). 

Mismanagement can also result in long term complications which can affect various parts of the body, including heart disease, kidney damage (nephropathy), eye damage (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), stroke and limb amputations.

A patient with diabetes can help reduce the risk of complications by having regular check-ups with their healthcare team and testing the blood glucose levels at home regularly aiming for between 4–8mmol/l before meals and less than 10mmol/l two hours after meals for most of the time. It may also help to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, eating a healthy balanced diet, keeping their blood pressure and cholesterol under control, increasing levels of physical activity and stopping smoking. 

For further information about diabetes, and the symptoms of these significant complications please follow this link to Diabetes UK website: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/

If you think that a healthcare provider has delayed, misdiagnosed or mismanaged your diabetes (or of someone you know) we may be able to help you. Please get in touch with Claire Cooper on 0845 274 6830 or claire.cooper@freeths.co.uk for some free initial advice on whether you may have a clinical negligence claim.