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Indeed, the latest stats are concerning, having reached an all-time high. Diabetes UK reported in February this year that more than 3.2 million people in the UK (5% of the population) have been diagnosed with the condition. Add to that the many hundreds of thousands who are believed to be as yet undiagnosed, and many estimate the figure is fast approaching 4 million.

A recent study by the BMJ revealed that a staggering one in three adults now have borderline or pre-diabetes, and are in danger of developing the disease. The number of sufferers could therefore be set to rise steeply.

It is widely reported that Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 per cent of those diagnosed. While genetic predisposition plays a part, this form of diabetes is also associated with excess weight.

All-important awareness

It could be argued that diabetes in itself is not particularly life threatening, but the complications that come along with it certainly can be. However, many of these complications can be avoided or mitigated with careful management and treatment of the diabetes.

This is why it’s vital to get an early diagnosis and intervention – and awareness of the risk factors could make all the difference.

Know your risk levels

  • Watch your weight and waist – Diabetes UK states a large waist size of over 80cm for women or 94cm for men puts you at risk*, as does a body mass index (BMI) over 30.
  • Additional risks – The risk level also rises if you are over 40, are of South Asian, Black African, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern descent, or if you know of a family member with diabetes.
  • Understand the symptoms – Type 2 diabetes develops very slowly and the symptoms can be subtle, including thirst and a dry mouth, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision and headaches**. If you are at risk and experience these symptoms, see a doctor.
  • Be screened – A free NHS Health Check is available for 40-74 year olds at risk of serious diseases, and you should seize the chance if you’re eligible – meanwhile Diabetes UK also has an online diabetes risk calculator. However, if you are particularly worried or think you have symptoms, there’s no substitute for a visit to the doctor.

Health insurance and diabetes

Many health insurance policies seek to reduce the risk of conditions such as diabetes; for example, some providers rewarding policy holders who maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If you already have a private medical insurance policy and are diagnosed with diabetes, you will be covered for diagnosis and in some cases, for acute flare-ups. However, if you are looking to take out a policy, you will not be covered for pre-existing chronic conditions like diabetes. It is therefore essential to seek expert advice when choosing medical insurance regarding what kind of underwriting you should have.

It is worth noting that the focus of Diabetes Week 2014 is “I can” – promoting the possibility of living a normal and healthy life with diabetes. With careful and effective management and a positive attitude, a diagnosis needn’t stop you in your tracks.