Healthy living

Most cases of diabetes diagnosed 'by accident'

Public unaware of early signs

Over half (56%) of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes last year had no idea they had the condition, according to a report released today by charity Diabetes UK.

If diagnosed late, Type 2 diabetes puts people at risk of developing serious complications such as stroke, heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and amputation.

However, the majority of people with diabetes are diagnosed "by accident," while being treated for another another medical condition or undergoing routine tests as most are unaware of the early signs of the condition.

Currently, more than 2 million people have diabetes in the UK, and an estimated 500,000 are thought to have the disease but don't know it.

The number of people with diabetes is growing rapidly, mostly due to our increasingly unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyle. If current trends continue, around four million people may be living with diabetes in the UK by 2025.

Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “We need to make sure that people are aware of the risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and we need to encourage them to ask for a diabetes test if they are at risk of developing the condition.

“Diabetes awareness is key if we want to prevent people from facing a future of ill health: being diagnosed early means that you are less likely to develop the serious complications of diabetes."

Diabetes warning signs

  • Using the loo (for a wee) all the time, especially at night
  • Increased thirst
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • Blurred vision

Risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes include being overweight, being over 40 (or over 25 in Black and South Asian people) and having a close relative with diabetes.

This article was published on Mon 18 January 2010

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