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UK doctors dealing with increase in unnecessary diabetes hospital visits

Thursday 28th July 2016
UK hospital doctors are having to deal with an increasing number of avoidable visits from diabetic patients. Image: monkeybusinessimages via iStock
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Hospital doctors in the UK are finding themselves dealing with an increasing number of visits from diabetic patients that could have easily been avoided, a new report reveals.

A study carried out at the University of Leicester found that the number of people seeking hospital treatment for hypoglycaemia increased by 49 per cent between 2005 and 2010, with an overall rise of 39 per cent from 2005 to 2014.

During this ten-year period, almost 80,000 people were admitted to hospital for hypoglycaemia for a total of 101,475 episodes, despite this being relatively easy to prevent.

Hypoglycaemia is the state that the body goes into when blood sugar levels drop dangerously low, potentially resulting in loss of vision, unconsciousness and even death if left untreated. The symptoms of the condition are often similar to those of being drunk, so it is important to make sure that this is not the case and to still seek medical treatment when concerned.

However, most people can self-medicate the onset of hypoglycaemia by eating sweets or consuming drinks that have a high sugar content, helping to regulate the body's blood sugar levels back to a normal, safe level.

It is estimated that every hospital admission for hypoglycaemia costs the NHS more than £1,000, meaning that the annual cost of treating the condition comes in at approximately £13 million in total.

Of the patients admitted to hospital for hypoglycaemia last year, more than 70 per cent were aged 60 and over, indicating that more needs to be done to educate older people about effective diabetes management to prevent the condition from developing in the first place.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, lead author of the study, commented: "Given the continuous rise of diabetes prevalence, ageing population and costs associated with hypoglycaemia, individuals and national initiatives should be implemented to reduce the burden of hospital admissions for hypos."

Written by James Puckle

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