Paediatric 12 Hour First Aid Level 3 (VTQ) - Online Blended Part 1

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Diabetes overview

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Diabetes Explained: An Overview of the Growing Concern

Diabetes arises when the body struggles to convert sugars into fuel, a result of insufficient insulin production or ineffective insulin function. With its roots in modern lifestyle and dietary choices, the condition is seeing a significant surge in the UK.

The Role of Insulin and Glucose

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is pivotal for converting glucose from carbohydrates into energy. Acting as a key, insulin allows glucose to enter cells. Carbohydrates, the primary source of glucose, are derived from varied foods including starches, fruits, dairy, and sugary foods.

Diabetes in the UK: A Snapshot

An alarming 25 million people in the UK are diabetic, with over half a million unaware of their condition.

Main Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Characterised by the body's inability to produce insulin.
  • Typically manifests before age 14.
  • Represents 5% to 15% of diabetic cases.
  • Common symptoms include extreme thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and blurred vision.
  • Prevention is currently impossible.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Arises when insulin production is inadequate or when produced insulin doesn’t function correctly (insulin resistance).
  • Commonly associated with obesity.
  • Typically seen in those over 40, but appearing in younger demographics, especially in South Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations.
  • Constitutes 85% to 95% of all diabetes cases.
  • Symptoms include blurred vision, slow-healing wounds, frequent urination, and leg pain.

Managing Diabetes: Treatments and Complications

With appropriate management via insulin, dietary adjustments, and lifestyle changes, diabetes can be well-controlled. However, complications can arise, primarily being hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia.


  • Condition of excessively high blood sugar levels.
  • Immediate medical attention is required. In unconscious cases, position the patient safely and monitor their vitals.
  • Symptoms include frequent urination, drowsiness, extreme hunger, and a fruity breath odour.


  • Occurs when blood sugar levels plummet.
  • Immediate provision of sugar, through food or tablets, often stabilises the patient.
  • Common symptoms are shaking, sweating, anxiety, extreme hunger, and irritability.

Uncertain Sugar Levels: What to Do?

If in doubt regarding a patient's blood sugar levels, it's advisable to administer sugar. This can raise levels if they're low without causing harm if they're high.