Anjali Chauhan, now 22, was first diagnosed with having type 1 diabetes at the age of 16.
Diabetes is a condition which generally falls into 2 categories: Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2. Type 1 is usually diagnosed in children or young adults but it can develop at any time. Type 2 starts gradually and is usually diagnosed in later life, however it is increasingly being found in the younger age group.
The main symptoms of diabetes include:
- Weight loss (This is main symptom of type 1)
- Urinating more frequently (especially during the night)
- Blurred vision
- Feeling very tired or thirsty
- Cuts/wounds which heal slowly
Anjali explained: “Your life completely changes, you have to think about how things can affect your blood sugars and knowing you are diabetic is always on the back of your mind. The thought of exercising makes me worried and anxious because exercising can make your blood sugar levels drop considerably. However, being a student I do walk a lot and that is how I manage to fit in exercise into my daily routine. Walking for me can also cause my blood sugars to drop. To prevent this from happening I manage my diabetes by making sure I carry sugary sweets and juice with me.
“Knowing when to eat or drink something to maintain blood glucose levels prevents patients having hypos (A hypo is when your blood glucose level drops too low) and hospital admissions. “
Anjali added: “Learning to manage my diabetes together with family support and having a Freestyle Libre device has helped me massively. It gives you some control of your sugars, makes life easier and more flexible. It is very helpful technology when you are on the move. “
Anjali’s sister, Tara Chauhan is 21 years old and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15.
Tara said: “Having diabetes has made me really think about my diet, I also try to go to the gym when I can. When I do go to the gym, I take light meals with me to prevent my glucose sugar levels from going low.
“During university term time having diabetes means it get can difficult in exams, during assessments and in lessons and therefore I have to make sure I take enough food with me to prevent my blood sugar levels from dropping. In addition to this, I also ask for rest breaks. “
“The Freestyle Libre has helped loads, having this piece of health technology means you can constantly monitor yourself. The device has an arrow which shows you when your sugar level is going low. This together with family support like making sure they only cook foods which are diabetes friendly and supporting both my sister and I to do accomplish whatever we would like to, has been are a great support for the both of us.
“Both mine and my sister’s lives have changed dramatically since we’ve got Freestyle Libre and since the CCGs here have made this available for the NHS. I really feel it will empower a lot of people with Type1 diabetes with confidence and better health going forwards.
Tara added: “I would say to others don’t let diabetes stop you doing the things you enjoy. Control your diabetes and don’t let it control you! ”
Dr Rahul Thakur, a local GP and diabetes clinical lead at NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said:
“Diabetes is a condition that can affect anybody at any age. There are 2 main types of diabetes:
type 1 diabetes – where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
type 2 diabetes – where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes we can show you how to manage your condition to help you live as healthy a life as possible.”
“The stories of Anjali and Tara are eye openers of how Freestyle Libre has empowered people with type 1 diabetes. It may be an innovation at present with stringent prescribing criteria, but I am sure it will be a norm in times to come”.
“With respect to type 2 diabetes, there is a lot of debate surrounding strategies to put the condition in remission. Our CCGs will very soon endeavor to pilot a project with a hope to put a lot of people with type 2 diabetes in remission, eventually improving longevity of healthy lives of the affected people and also saving huge amounts of money for the NHS. The CCGs are also in the process of introducing digitally structured education for type 2 diabetes that will cater to largely those smart-phone friendly population who find it difficult to make time for face to face interventions.”
“If you manage your diabetes well, you won’t notice a massive difference to your daily life. You’ll be confident in making adjustments where necessary to your food, lifestyle and medication (if you’ve been prescribed medication). This is where our support services can help.”
Services are available in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire to help patients with all aspects of their diabetes care. The advice you receive will be tailored to your individual circumstances and covers lots of areas such as:
- How different types of foods will affect you and how to choose well;
- What physical symptoms you need to look out for;
- What to do if you feel unwell and how this might affect you;
- What activities are available in your area that you may be interested in;
- What apps may help you manage your diabetes;
- What support services are available to keep your mental health healthy;
- Details of local support groups that may interest you.
For more information about diabetes please contact your GP surgery or visit the Diabetes UK website at www.diabetes.org.uk