Mealtime insulin administration concerns highlighted by survey

By Editor
7th December 2016
Latest news

A third of people with diabetes are risking serious complications by not taking mealtime insulin as recommended by their healthcare professional, a survey has found.

One in five people also regularly miss their insulin dose before lunch, according to the survey of 200 people living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes needing mealtime insulin to control their glucose levels.

We need to get people thinking seriously about the impact of high blood sugar after meals

The findings also revealed that over a half of people were “frustrated” by management of their diabetes, while a quarter of respondents felt their relationship was negatively impacted due to worries their diabetes before, during or after mealtimes.

People with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes requiring a mealtime insulin should take it before a meal to effectively control a post-meal spike in their blood sugar levels, according to NICE guidance.

Commenting on the findings, Ponnusamy Saravanan, associate clinical professor and honorary consultant physician at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick & George Eliot Hospital, said: “We need to get people thinking seriously about the impact of high blood sugar after meals. In addition to immediate and sometimes dangerous symptoms such as blurred vision and extreme tiredness, regular high blood sugar levels could lead to serious long-term complications, including heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and amputation.

“The survey results show a lack of education and awareness of the consequences of poorly controlled blood sugar levels around mealtimes, leaving people at real risk of developing irreversible complications. If we don’t get this message out now then we will continue to spend billions each year on treating these complications on the NHS, in addition to significant social costs to the individuals affected and their families.”

Symptoms

Regular symptoms of hyperglycaemia reported in the survey included tiredness, thirst, needing to urinate frequently, difficulty concentrating, reduced productivity and irritability.

But only a half of people questioned the symptoms as being linked to high blood sugar levels. Only a third said they told their doctor or nurse about the symptoms, despite one in thre having to take a sick day or cancel an engagement as a result.

Dr Lalantha Leelarathna, consultant diabetologist and honorary senior lecturer at Manchester Diabetes Centre, Manchester Royal Infirmary, added: “The fact that many patients don’t discuss their symptoms with their healthcare team suggests that we as clinicians need to be more proactive in asking about hyperglycaemia and better educate our patients on the importance of good mealtime control. In addition, we need to provide our patients with treatment strategies to achieve good post-meal glucose control.

“Missing or delayed meal time insulin will often lead to very high post-meal glucose levels increasing glucose variability and the risk of complications. Greater awareness is our best defence against diabetes-related complications and I welcome these latest survey results as an opportunity to highlight these important issues.”

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