To celebrate World Diabetes Day, check your blood sugar


World Diabetes Day is on 14 November 2022, and we want you to check your health. If not now, when? There's no better time than now to go check your annual health screening with a healthcare professional.

With the world gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have understandably avoided visiting healthcare professionals. But now, with many people having recieved the vaccine, it is much safer to check your health and get treatment.

Getting to grips with diabetes

With all of us dealing with so much right now, it is more important than ever to check if you have abnormal blood sugar levels.

It is estimated that millions of South Africans have pre-diabetes. This is a condition where insulin resistance causes blood glucose levels to be higher than normal but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, this eventually leads to type 2 diabetes. Most people with insulin resistance do not know they have it for many years. Pre-diabetes can progress to type 2 diabetes unless you make positive lifestyle changes. The most important diabetes prevention and management tools are achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, engaging in regular exercise and following a healthy diet.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. It generally starts during childhood. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body produces insulin but cannot respond to it effectively. Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with lifestyle behaviours and genetic predisposition.

What increases the risk of the onset of type 2 diabetes

Different variables contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. The following are some of the most important elements that raise a person's risk:

  1. Genetics: If a parent or grandparent has it, you have a higher chance of developing it.
  2. Age: As people get older, the chances of developing it increase. Because of this, you need to test your blood glucose levels regularly.
  3. Abdominal weight: Carrying additional weight around the stomach is a major risk factor. Males should have a waist circumference of less than 102cm, while females should have a waist circumference of less than 88cm. You need to check your waist circumference regularly.
  4. Obesity: Being overweight raises the risk significantly. A significant amount of patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, which is why it is important to check your body mass index (BMI) regularly.
  5. Inactivity: A lack of exercise is not only bad for a person's waistline, but it can also raise their diabetes risk. It is well-documented that exercise reduces the risk of diabetes.
  6. Diet: It is not true that sugar consumption causes diabetes. A high-calorie diet rich in fatty, starchy, or sugary foods can all contribute to weight gain, which is the true cause of type 2 diabetes.
  7. Smoking: The more a person smokes, the higher their risk of developing diabetes.

Prevent type 2 diabetes with screenings and healthy behaviours

Even if type 2 diabetes runs in your family, a healthy, portion-controlled diet, frequent exercise, stopping or not smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight can substantially lower anyone's chance of developing the disease.

To detect diabetes early, everyone, not only those with a family history of diabetes, must have a diabetes screening at least once a year. The process is as simple and fast using finger prick test that you can do with your doctor. Talk to your primary care doctor about the screening, so you get the advice you need before going for it. You can find a healthcare professional using our Find a Healthcare Provider tool.

What happens if I already have diabetes?

The Chronic Illness Benefit from Discovery Health Medical Scheme provides comprehensive cover for diabetes management. You must register to get cover. To qualify, your doctor must complete the application, and you must fulfil the necessary medical requirements.

If you are registered on the Chronic Illness Benefit for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you also qualify to register for access to the Diabetes Care Programme . To have access to the Diabetes Care Programme, you must consult with a Premier Plus GP. The Diabetes Care Programme, together with your Premier Plus GP, will help you actively manage your diabetes. The programme gives you and your Premier Plus GP access to various tools to monitor and manage your condition and to ensure you get high quality coordinated healthcare and the best outcomes.

Learn more about support available for diabetes through the Diabetes Care Programme and the Chronic Illness Benefit here.

What are you waiting for? Book your Health Check today

  • Find out your blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) by doing your Health Check at an accredited Wellness Centre, Wellness Network pharmacy or Discovery Store, or on a Discovery Wellness Day. You can also book an appointment online.
  • We pay for the Health Check from your Screening and Prevention Benefit. This means it won't affect your day-to-day benefits. If you are a Vitality member, you can also get points for doing your Health Check.
  • Doing your Health Check unlocks the WELLTH Fund with covers a comprehensive list of screening and prevention healthcare services to ensure that you are empowered to take specific action according to your individual health needs. This benefit is separate from and additional to the Screening and Prevention Benefit and will be available once per lifetime for all members and dependants who have completed their health checks. Your WELLTH Fund can be used for appropriate screening and prevention healthcare services up to your WELLTH Fund limit. Cover is subject to the Scheme's clinical entry criteria, treatment guidelines and protocols.
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