Sugar, sugar

As part of Diabetes Week, our medical staff have been out and about with clients, testing staff for their blood sugar levels – and there have been some surprises in store.

Lifestyle, diet and exercise levels all affect the onset of Type 2 Diabetes – whether it’s four sugars in four teas a day, multiple energy drinks to kick start your day or unhealthy fast foods on the way home because you’re simply too tired to cook.

In a typical week at Express Medicals, nurses see around 60 candidates a day.

“Of those 60, at least five will show high sugar levels in their tests: that means we have to refer them to their GP and won’t be able to clear them for work straight away as they could be at risk.

“Too much sugar could indicate they’re either pre-diabetic or they have the condition and simply didn’t know,” says Lauren Miles, Express Medicals’ Nurse Team Leader.

“Diabetes has serious implications when you’re at work: it can affect your eyesight and cause vascular damage to your hands and feet. That could mean something minor like you don’t feel the blister caused by new PPE boots which becomes infected, to failure to feel any sensation if you’ve been shot in the leg by a nail gun – it really is that serious.”

Diabetes is a condition that plays on everyone’s mind: frequent press coverage means our candidates are often aware of the implications but simply haven’t found the time to get checked.

“People in the sectors we work with are sitting ducks for diabetes because of the jobs they do,” adds Georgia van Zantvoort (pictured). “They often work shift patterns which can make it difficult to eat regular, sensible meals. Many might not have high levels of health literacy, so don’t know why it’s important to regulate salt, sugar and fat content in their diets.

“We’re seeing an increased number of candidates who come for drug and alcohol testing asking if they can be tested for diabetes as well. We’re happy to do that, and are able to give them some information verbally and in printed format. Many are just relieved that they’ve been able to find out more about their personal health at a convenient time and location.”

And in time, with better health education and screening in the workplace, we hope we can drive down that figure of five new referrals in every 60 clients we see.