Ballymena sees 36% rise in diabetes

DIABETES UK Northern Ireland has warned of the continuing growth of diabetes in Ballymena as figures collected this month revealed the number of local people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes has increased by 36% during the last five years.

The total number of adults with diabetes aged 17 and over who are registered with GPs in Ballymena is now 2,918 compared with just 2,148 in 2007. This figure has also risen from 2,824 in 2011.

The overall number of people in Northern Ireland with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is now 75, 837; a 33% increase since 2007, and a further 1,038 young people under 17 are known to have Type 1 diabetes. Prevalence in the Northern Ireland population is now over 4% and it is estimated that around 10,000 people are living with the condition but have not yet been diagnosed.

Iain Foster, National Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland said: “These statistics are very worrying and we must take urgent steps to ensure that more people in Ballymena don’t develop the condition at this rate. Diabetes is a rising challenge within our health service and it is vital that an effective strategy is put in place to ensure we do not see a similar increase in the next five years.

“Diabetes and its complications are putting a huge strain on resources within our health service and as cuts continue to be made across all Trusts, the multi-disciplinary teams treating diabetes are becoming increasingly less equipped to meet the demand of patients and provide the necessary education for effective self-management.

Type 2 diabetes is often, but not always, linked to lifestyle factors and in many cases the condition can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular physical activity and eating a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables but low in fat, sugar and salt. However, Type 1 is also on the increase and is a serious condition that develops when the body cannot produce any insulin. The cause of Type 1 diabetes is still unknown but it has no link to lifestyle and therefore cannot be prevented.

The main symptoms of diabetes include urinating frequently 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.