- Title: Research reveals negative emotions jeopardise Type 2 diabetics' health
- Date: 29th December 2016
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (DECEMBER 07, 2016) (REUTERS) DOCTOR MAX PEMBERTON, PSYCHIATRIST AT ST. ANN'S HOSPITAL IN LONDON
- Embargoed: 13th January 2017 10:39
- Keywords: diabetes insulin Christmas Xmas fat injection diabetic Sanofi
- Location: LONDON AND GREAT BARFORD, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON AND GREAT BARFORD, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA0025EXRVBV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The Christmas season of celebration and indulgence is a difficult time for some type 2 diabetics, as research reveals that how they feel about themselves can have a serious impact on their health.
Type 2 diabetes is often linked with obesity and a survey by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi has revealed sufferers feel blamed for letting themselves develop the condition, even risking their own health rather than reveal their illness.
Injecting insulin lowers the blood sugar level while not injecting can lead to high blood sugar levels.
Low blood sugar can cause severe hypoglycaemia, or hypo, which is when a diabetic becomes unable to treat themselves and needs help.
"People are deliberately not taking quite enough medication to try and avoid having a 'hypo' and that's because they feel embarrassed or ashamed about having one and also because often people have to take the medication out with them so if they go out for a meal they'll have to take their medication with them and people feel embarrassed about using the medication in public so they skip it and don't use it at all and what that means is actually their blood glucose levels run typically too high. Now, in the short term that doesn't cause really very many problems but the issue is that in the long term having very high blood glucose levels causes really, really significant problems for the body," said Dr Max Pemberton, a psychiatrist and eating disorder specialist at Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust.
Sanofi say more than forty percent of those questioned prefer having high blood sugar levels than risk another 'hypo'.
Howard Cox was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 20 years ago at the age of 45 and has been injecting insulin for the last ten years. Cox says he has come to terms with his condition but recognises the shame and embarrassment felt by other diabetics.
"I play golf quite a lot now and, I wouldn't say deliberately, but I don't put too much insulin into me before I play golf because what you don't want on the ninth or tenth hole is for all of a sudden your brain to go a bit awry so you leave it a little bit high deliberately so that you can play the round of golf because there's not really anyway of curing it once you're on the golf course," Cox said.
The research shows fifteen percent believe other people blame them for giving themselves the condition and more than half feel self-conscious or avoid injecting in front of people.
Pemberton says that while not all type 2 diabetics are obese, the majority are and can find Christmas a particularly sensitive time with mixed messages from the media.
"They're kind of pushing high calorie, unhealthy foods and saying it's somehow a treat and that we deserve it and on the other hand we're bombarded with images of people being really slim and this totally unobtainable, idealised body image so actually people are really confused," he said.
The risks associated with high blood glucose levels -- heart attack, stroke, blindness and even amputations -- are often not understood, according to Pemberton.
"I would actually rather have HIV than diabetes. Now, that sounds quite shocking but the reason for that is that actually now because of advances in medication someone with HIV can now live a normal lifespan. So actually it does not reduce your life expectancy at all. However with diabetes on average, the average person with type 2 diabetes will die ten to fifteen years sooner than someone without. So actually diabetes is a life limiting and life shortening condition and people don't realise that and the reason for that is because it's so hard to get that balance just right. So that people typically will be running their blood glucose levels too high and that that in the long term will shorten their life," he said.
The Sanofi research is part of a wider campaign to encourage better blood sugar level management and includes a new patient support website, diabeteshighsandlows.co.uk providing advice.
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