MORE than 4,000 people in Rotherham could have diabetes without knowing it, according to a charity.
Diabetes UK believes that more than one in four of the town’s diabetic population have not yet been diagnosed and are putting themselves at risk.
These are people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes, which leaves them in danger of complications such as blindness, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and heart disease.
New estimates from Diabetes Health Intelligence, a strategic programme of Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory, also show a total of 85,300 people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes in the Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority (SHA) area.
The condition can go undetected for up to ten years and around half of people are already showing signs of complications by the time they are diagnosed. Early diagnosis and effective management of the condition are crucial in reducing the risk of developing life-changing complications.
Linda Wood, Diabetes UK Northern and Yorkshire Regional Manager, said: "This new estimate of more than 4,000 undiagnosed Type 2 cases in Rotherham is truly alarming.
“PCTs need to better prioritise screening of at risk groups and improve uptake of programmes such as NHS Health Checks.
“We also urgently need more initiatives in the Yorkshire and Humber area such as the Diabetes UK Measure Up campaign to raise awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and encourage people at risk to go to their GP for a simple diabetes test.
“We face a bleak future of spiralling NHS costs and worsening public health if diagnosis rates for Type 2 diabetes do not improve.
“Diabetes is serious but once people are diagnosed and start managing it, there is every reason they can live long and healthy lives.”
The main risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes are being overweight or having a large waist, being aged over 40 (or over 25 in Black and South Asian people) and having a close relative with diabetes.
Diabetes UK urges anyone who could be at risk of developing the condition to go to their doctor or practice nurse for a diabetes test.
The symptoms of diabetes include going to the toilet (urinating) more often and especially at night, increased thirst, extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, slow healing of cuts and wounds and blurred vision.
Diabetes UK believes that the Department of Health's NHS Health Checks programme, targeting people between the ages of 40 and 74, will help identify more people with Type 2 diabetes.
The charity also wants to see improved access to health services for the many communities in the UK who, because of their social or ethnic backgrounds, may currently be excluded from mainstream services.
It is also important that diabetes testing and diabetes awareness programmes are available through a variety of settings, such as pharmacies and local outreach services. Visit www.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore to take a new online test to determine your risk of diabetes.
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