No need to fear diabetes with advice from Gloucestershire’s specialists
KEEPING patients on their medication is one of the biggest challenges faced daily by Gloucestershire's specialist diabetes nurses battling to keep a lid on the disease.
An ageing population and ignorance towards symptoms of the condition are making life difficult for nurses.
Gail Pasquall and her team of specialists travel the county offering advice to sufferers and those struggling to come to terms with a recent diagnosis.
"We do structured education for newly diagnosed and also clinics and home visits for people at home who may need information on controlling their diabetes," she said.
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"Education on diet and lifestyle is very important on how to improve their condition.
"It shouldn't be a hard transition to change lifestyle.
"Type I Diabetes can be more of a shock to the system, particularly if they have been fit and well in the past."
As soon as patients are diagnosed with Type I, they are put on insulin as little or no insulin is produced in the pancreas.
Type II is a much slower progression and has a gradual onset. It can usually be controlled with a healthy lifestyle and medication.
Regular meals, with fruit and vegetables and exercise can help keep diabetes at bay - and other health problems.
"For people with Type II diabetes, they find it difficult to understand as they can feel well in general," said Gail, who has been a diabetes nurse for 10 years.
"You may feel well, but it is the complications of the underlying disease that are the problem.
"It will catch up with you the longer you have diabetes.
"It is our job to show people why they need to take their medication.
"There are lots of risk factors in the south Asian community. If there is a family history, people are overweight or carrying weight around the middle there is a higher risk.
"The population is ageing also which increases the problem.
"An Asian diet can be healthy, Basmati rice is not unhealthy and naan breads are ok as long as it is not spread with ghee.
"It is all about balance and smaller quantities.
"We are working more closely with Gloucester City Council to set up education programmes to adapt to meet the ways in which it is more acceptable to other communities.
"There are misconceptions and fear surrounding diabetes, and some ethnic communities don't get tested as much.
"People can still have the food they enjoy, but it is more about how much and when they eat that is the problem.
"Medication is a bigger issue and it is trying to increase understanding of how it works.
"Patients may feel well, but the medication is still needed to avoid long term complications.
"Lots of people with Type II don't have symptoms and if they do, when the symptoms stop they stop their medication and that is wrong.
"That is our biggest problem and an area we need to improve on."