National Diabetes Day- Spot The Signs

Recent research revealed that 9 out of 10 diabetics are now type 2 and statistics from diabetes UK suggest that more than half a million Brits are undiagnosed and living with the condition. Dr. Haris Rathur at Pall Mall Medical offers fresh comment on the subject, including the five symptoms to look out for, how those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes can take measures to fight the condition and how those who have been diagnosed can improve their health too. This comment comes in advance of National diabetes Day on the 14th November:

“It is currently estimated that 10 per cent of the NHS budget, around £173m per week, is spent on diabetes related cases, which works out at almost £10 billion a year. Estimates suggest that by 2025, there will be more than five million people with diabetes in the UK – that’s a staggering 13 per cent of the population – with type 2 as the predominant form of diabetes amongst UK citizens.”

“Despite medical advances, there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, with 80 per cent of the NHS spend on diabetes being not on drugs, but in fact, on treating complications associated with the condition, such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.”

“Appropriate lifestyle measures, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet can be adopted to avoid developing type 2 diabetes, or control the serious factors which lead to complications, for those already diagnosed.”

“In recent years, new drugs have emerged for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, which help those with diabetes to lose weight, which in turn improves not only blood sugar levels, but also cholesterol and blood pressure, which can add to the complications associated with diabetes.”

“These revolutionary drugs help those with diabetes to lose weight which in turn improves not only blood sugar levels, but also cholesterol and blood pressure which can add to the complications associated with diabetes.”

“Continuing to research and invest in new drugs will ultimately cut down the risk of complications of diabetes, which in turn will reduce the need to spend on complications.”

“If you are worried about potentially having or being at risk of developing Diabetes – and research suggest over 500,000 of us are undiagnosed but living with the condition – then please visit your GP for simple glucose tests and for tailored advice on how to proactively tackle this life changing condition.”

Five ways to spot the signs of type 2 diabetes:

1. Night time Hunger

There are many reasons why we might not be able to get a restful sleep but waking up starving in the middle of the night with no energy could also be an indication of type 2 diabetes.

I hear stories from many of my patients who have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes and they wake up during the early hours feeling ravenous. A tendency that often leads to the kitchen to snack or raid the fridge to satisfy night-time hunger. Neither are habits that are good for your health.

A smart tip to combat this dawn phenomenon is to eat a bedtime snack. Try a high-fibre, low-fat option, like whole-wheat crackers with cheese, an apple with peanut butter, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices or a handful of nuts are all good choices. These foods will keep your blood sugar steady and keep you feeling full for longer overnight.  Otherwise, your blood sugar may continue to crash overnight, and you’ll potentially get stuck in the same cycle of waking, feeling hungry and wanting to eat again.

2. Struggling with weight loss

Weight-loss is a lifestyle battle for many of us. Many diets end up as a story of yo-yo weight loss, having to go the extra mile to get the result we want, then suffering with emptiness and having to fight off the hunger pangs. The end result is that as soon as we start eating normally, we sadly pile all the weight back on again. What may surprise you, is that struggling with hunger from weight loss can be a sign or risk of type 2 diabetes.

Another warning sign is increasing belly fat, especially when you are relatively slim elsewhere.  I’m always choosing low fat meals, but still not losing weight around the waist. Though what I’ve learnt is to take a second look at foods that are labelled as ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ – they can often be high in carbohydrates and sugars instead, neither being any more helpful in weight loss.

Regardless of your BMI, studies have shown that people with a large waist (over 40 inches/102cm for men and over 34.5 inches/88cm for women) have a similar risk of developing type 2 diabetes to those who are clinically obese.

3. The Afternoon Slump

Like many of my paitents, you may also feel you hit the ‘wall’ in the afternoon – another warning sign to look out for.  This “carb crash” can leave you feeling lethargic and struggling to stay awake at your desk.

You can feel great after polishing off this carb-laden lunch of a sandwich, crisps and a fizzy drink. Though hours later, when your blood sugar levels come crashing down, you will feel that sudden bout of extreme tiredness, often warning signs of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. What is worse, is that we usually respond to this afternoon slump by reaching for the tea and biscuits for the cycle to start all over again!

If you are experiencing afternoon tiredness or falling asleep after eating, this can be a warning sign. It’s not just ‘sugars’ you need to avoid, diabetes is an inability to process glucose properly. Carbohydrates convert to glucose in the body, so it makes sense to reduce the amount of carbohydrates that you eat too.

The main carbs to avoid or reduce are the complex or starchy carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, starchy root veg and also any flour based products. These starchy carbs all convert 100% to glucose in the body and can make blood sugar levels spike and then crash in a short amount of time. Some good options to help you get through the day would be apples, nut butter, hard-boiled eggs, pistachios, or hummus with celery sticks.

4. Aches and Pains

Getting old is hard enough to accept, but even more so when your suffering from a growing number of aches and pains. Research shows that even arthritis can be the result of poor diets that include too much sugar and carbs. What you may not know is that the consumption of foods high in sugar can cause inflammation and most forms of joint pain and muscle aches involve inflammation. Even if pain is the result of trauma from an injury, your symptoms may be exacerbated and prolonged by your diet, a sure warning sign that you are at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Luke McCall, Sports Therapist at Pall Mall Medical said: “I see patients regularly who are struggling to recover from injury or suffering from unexplained aches and pains.  Whether you’re trying to get fit, enjoy the gym or just playing football with your mates – poor dietary control is often a trigger for ongoing joint inflammation. Getting your exercise right, alongside better dietary management, can mean a faster recovery and getting back to what you love without pain.”

5. Low Moods

There are many reasons for low mood and lethargy, but one of those can be a sign of type 2 diabetes – that is from eating lots of foods containing carbs and sugar.

Dr Matteo Ria, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Pall Mall Medical said: “Low mood and lethargy at the end of Summer is common, but not always caused by mental health issues. Changing your eating habits and consuming fewer carbs can break the cycle of suffering from low self-esteem or mood when there is a dietary cause.  Most patients cannot believe how much better they feel after just a few weeks of dietary change.”


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If you would like to book an appointment for a blood test or to see a GP, please contact Pall Mall Medical by calling 03300 58 44 55 or email

There are NO waiting lists and you DON’T need a referral letter from the NHS at Pall Mall Medical. We offer a simple call and book system for all self-funding and medically insured patients.