About 50% of people with diabetes do not know they have it. There is now a range of approved home test kits available, so that those with the illness can be diagnosed early, and treated before serious complications develop. Long term complications associated with diabetes include high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes, high cholesterol, eye damage, kidney failure, nerve damage and leg ulcers.
Diabetes is a condition caused by too much glucose in your blood. Your blood sugar level can be too high if your body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin. There are 2 basic types of diabetes - type 1 usually affects people under 40 and occurs if the body is unable to produce any insulin. Type 2 usually affects people over 40 but can develop at any age. About 9 out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2.
A range of diabetes test kits can be purchased from chemists, and are normally available to people over the age of 16. Always read the manufacturers instructions carefully before carrying out the test, and ensure that you fulfil the health requirements, and that the expiry date has not passed. There are different types of tests available, some of which have a timed results stage, so always have a clock or watch ready.
Other kits require you take a small sample of blood from the tip of your finger, and bring this to a stick which absorbs the blood to give an almost instant digital reading of the glucose level in your blood.
A high result means that the test has found excess glucose in the blood, but does not always mean that you are diabetic. It is very important that you visit your GP to discuss the result. If the result is low, and you have none of the following symptoms - being more thirsty than normal, passing urine frequently, tiredness, weight loss and blurred vision - you do not need to do anything else. However if you do have these symptoms, or have any other concerns related to diabetes, you should always consult your doctor.