Research reveals negative emotions are jeopardising the health of Type 2 diabetics by impacting on how they manage their condition, a problem compounded at Christmas. Stuart McDill reports.
'Tis the season to be merry - but it can be a tough one for a type 2 diabetic - trying to balance their blood sugar level. Now, new research shows how they feel about their condition can have a serious impact on their health. A survey by Sanofi reveals the stigma of obesity - often associated with diabetes - means some are risking their long term health to hide their illness. Diagnosed twenty years ago, Howard Cox, recognises the shame and embarrassment felt by some type 2 diabetics. SOUNDBITE (English) HOWARD COX, TYPE 2 DIABETIC SAYING: "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." Injecting insulin helps lower the blood sugar level - but too low can cause hypoglycaemia - or a hypo - which leaves the sufferer needing help. But allowing levels to stay too high has its own risks. SOUNDBITE (English) DOCTOR MAX PEMBERTON, PSYCHIATRIST SAYING: "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." No real issues in the short term but dangerous in the long term. A greater risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness and even amputations. SOUNDBITE (English) DOCTOR MAX PEMBERTON, PSYCHIATRIST SAYING: "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 its 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." The research is part of a wider campaign to encourage better blood sugar level management all year round. Not just at Christmas.