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Diabetes in the Workplace

4 June, 2019

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition, and the early warning signs can often go unnoticed before it’s too late. But what is it? How is it caused? And what can we do to tackle the problem? In this blog, we’ll give a brief overview of type 2 diabetes, and how it could impact your workplace.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the insulin in your body – which is a hormone produced by your pancreas – can’t work properly, or there simply isn’t enough of it. Insulin is important because it allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and provide our body with energy. When you have diabetes, your body’s insulin can’t allow the glucose to enter into your cells. This means that the glucose sticks around in your bloodstream, which causes your blood sugar levels to rise. This can ultimately lead to some pretty serious complications, described below.

What are the complications of type 2 diabetes?

Fundamentally, unmanaged blood sugar levels with diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in your body. This can have a knock-on effect, as it can limit the blood supply to vital organs, or potentially even block blood-flow altogether. This can lead to complications such as:

  • Eye problems
  • Foot problems
  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Kidney problems
  • Nerve damage
  • and much more

High blood pressure, smoking and having high cholesterol can also damage your blood vessels, which will increase the risk of developing these complications.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

We’ve talked about the actual science behind diabetes developing in the body, but what can we do as individuals to prevent us from developing type 2 diabetes? Essentially, there are three modifiable risk factors associated with diabetes i.e. we can control and change them. These are:

  • Not eating a healthy diet
  • Not getting enough physical exercise
  • Being overweight

If you reduce these risk factors – by eating healthier, getting the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week, and reducing your weight to a healthy range – your chances of developing type 2 diabetes will decrease.

Diabetes and the workplace

Diabetes can have serious implications for the workplace. Whilst the majority of people who develop diabetes can manage the condition with diet or medication (and even go into remission), unmanaged diabetes can have serious effects on the body, as described above. Ultimately, this may affect an employee’s ability to do their job or may lead to them taking time off sick whilst they learn to manage the condition.

One of the most alarming facts about type 2 diabetes is that 6 in 10 people have no symptoms when they’re diagnosed. Similarly, some people simply may not notice their symptoms or may ignore them altogether. This might mean that some people can be living with diabetes for up to 10 years before being diagnosed, all the while potentially exposing their body to the damage caused by high blood sugar levels.

Diabetes Screening for your workplace

Testing blood sugar levels is a safe and simple process, and can be carried out in just a few minutes. Here at New Leaf Health, we’ve been providing workplace screening services for many years, using medically validated process and equipment, provided by specially trained practitioners.

Testing blood sugar levels is a fantastic way to promote health and wellbeing in your organisation, and can help lead to a happier, healthier workforce.

Click here to learn more about our Diabetes Awareness Days.

For more information on type 2 diabetes, visit the NHS website, or the Diabetes UK website.

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