Font Sizes:

Beat Diabetes Step By Step

Learn more about diabetes and ways to fight this chronic condition.

/sites/assets/Assets/Programs/diabetes-lbd/lbd-thumbnail.jpg?Width=140&Height=140

1 in 3 Singapore Residents are at a lifetime risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. 
Just 2 minutes of your time could potentially save your life.

Take the Diabetes Risk Assessment (DRA) to find out if you are at risk now!

Take the DRA ​​​​
Be aware

What
is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a long-term medical condition in which the blood glucose levels of a person remain higher than normal all the time. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when insulin does not work properly. Insulin is a hormone that reduces the blood glucose levels.

There are different types of diabetes:

  • Type 2 Diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes is usually found in people aged 40 and above who are overweight and physically inactive. In some people, the condition is mild and they are able to control their blood glucose with just diet and exercise. However, if the condition gets worse, they may require oral medication or insulin injections in addition to making lifestyle changes. For those who are overweight or obese, losing weight can be significantly beneficial, even if it is a small amount.

  • Type 1 Diabetes

    Usually diagnosed in children or young adults although it can occur at any age, type 1 diabetes results when the pancreas no longer produces insulin. Hence, persons with type 1 diabetes need insulin injections daily.

  • Gestational Diabetes

    Due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy, some women may show high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. These women require specialised obstetric care to prevent complications to the unborn child. In gestational diabetes, the blood glucose levels often return to normal after delivery. However, these women may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

  • PRE-DIABETES

     Normal > Pre-diabetes > Type 2 Diabetes

    Pre-diabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that if pre-diabetic persons lose weight and maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), adopt a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity, they can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Risk Factors

Diabetes can affect anyone. Knowing your risk of diabetes will help identify the changes you need to make to your lifestyle.

You are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you:

Have a parent or
sibling with diabetes

Have a BMI of
23.0 kg/m2 or higher

Lead an inactive
(sedentary) lifestyle

Have abnormal blood cholesterol/lipid levels

Have a history of gestational diabetes

Are 40 years old
and above

Have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose

Prevention

Leading a healthy lifestyle improves overall health and reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Age and family history increase one's risk of diabetes. So do being overweight or obese, having an unhealthy diet, and not having enough exercise. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications. However, the risk of diabetes can be reduced by leading an active and healthier lifestyle.

For people living with diabetes, a healthy lifestyle can complement other treatment options such as insulin and oral medication to better manage the condition. Take small but significant steps to adopt a healthier lifestyle today to see the positive impact they can have on your health later. As you get used to these small changes, they become a part of your daily routine and taking control of diabetes can only get easier.

Screening

Diabetes is a ‘silent’ disease in its early stages, and you can feel perfectly well until complications occur. However, a late diagnosis can result in serious and irreversible complications that could have been otherwise prevented through screening. It is therefore important to get yourself screened even if you feel perfectly healthy and experience no symptoms, for regular health screening is the best way to detect diabetes early and obtain timely treatment.

Going for screening

 
 

Screening for chronic diseases, including diabetes, is recommended under HPB's Screen for Life programme for those 40 years old and above. It is conducted through a fasting blood glucose test, done once every three years. 

Under HPB's Screen for Life programme offered by most CHAS GP clinics, chronic disease screening (including the doctor consult charges) is available at the following subsidised rates :

Pioneer Generation

If you are a Pioneer Generation cardholder, the screening test and the first post screening consultation (if assessed that a consultation is required) will be $0.

Health Assist (CHAS) Card Holders

If you are a CHAS cardholder (blue or orange card), you will only need to pay $2 for the screening test and the first post screening consultation (if assessed that a consultation is required). Applicable for both males and females aged 40 and above.

Other Eligible Singaporeans

You will only need to pay $5 for the screening test and the first post screening consultation (if assessed that a consultation is required). Applicable for both males and females aged 40 and above.

Permanent Residents

You will only need to pay $10 (excluding GST) for the screening test. The prevailing doctor consultation rates will be charged accordingly by the respective CHAS GP clinics.

*These rates are only applicable at CHAS GP clinics for the screening tests that are covered under the enhanced Screen for Life subsidies.


Clinics

 


Health screening is available at many private medical clinics and polyclinics. Visit our directory for the list of screening locations, or click here to locate your nearest CHAS GP clinic offering SFL screening services.

Learn more about the screening tests and subsidies you are eligible for at screenforlife.sg.

Tests and Diagnosis

You can test for diabetes by going for a blood glucose test. There are two types of blood glucose tests:

  • Fasting blood glucose test

     

    A fasting blood glucose test – usually done in the morning – requires you to fast overnight for at least 8 hours prior to the test.

  • Oral glucose test

     

    An oral glucose tolerance test requires you to fast for at least 8 hours prior to the blood test. During the test you are given a sugary drink. Your blood glucose level will be measured before and at intervals (1 hour and then 2 hours) after the sugary drink is taken. Test results that are positive are repeated with the same testing process on a different day to confirm diagnosis.

Receiving a diagnosis

If your screening results are normal, continue to go for regular screening every 3 years, or according to your doctor’s advice. Should you develop any of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, see your doctor as soon as you can. Do not wait for your next screening appointment.

If your screening results are abnormal, you should see your doctor promptly even if you feel perfectly well. Early treatment and good control of diabetes can result in better outcomes and prevent or delay serious complications.

Financial Assistance

Health Screening is heavily subsidised for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. Under HPB's Screen for Life programme offered by most CHAS GP clinics, chronic disease screening (including the doctor consult charges) is available at the following subsidised rates : 

Pioneer Generation
If you are a Pioneer Generation cardholder, the screening test and the first post screening consultation (if assessed that a consultation is required) will be $0.

Health Assist (CHAS) Card Holders
If you are a CHAS cardholder (blue or orange card), you will only need to pay $2 for the screening test and the first post screening consultation (if assessed that a consultation is required). Applicable for both males and females aged 40 and above.

Other Eligible Singaporeans
You will only need to pay $5 for the screening test and the first post screening consultation (if assessed that a consultation is required). Applicable for both males and females aged 40 and above.

Permanent Residents
You will only need to pay $10 (excluding GST) for the screening test. The prevailing doctor consultation rates will be charged accordingly by the respective CHAS GP clinics.

*These rates are only applicable at CHAS GP clinics for the screening tests that are covered under the enhanced Screen for Life subsidies.
Learn more about the screening tests and subsidies you are eligible for at screenforlife.sg.

Medisave, MediShield Life, ElderShield and Medifund schemes can help Singaporeans offset their medical expenses. Additionally, under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP), persons with diabetes can also use Medisave to help defray part of outpatient treatment fees and reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Myths and Facts

There are many myths about diabetes which people think to be true. This can be harmful as it leads to an incorrect understanding of diabetes. Get the facts below, and learn more about this chronic disease.

Myth

Diabetes is caused solely by eating too much sweet food.

Fact

Diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin – the hormone responsible for reducing blood glucose levels. Although eating sweet food does not directly cause diabetes, a diet high in sugar and fat can lead to obesity, which causes the body to be less sensitive to insulin, thus increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Myth

Diabetes can be cured.

Fact

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that has no cure. However, the condition can be controlled with lifestyle changes and, in some instances, medication.

Myth

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that has no cure. However, the condition can be controlled with lifestyle changes and, in some instances, medication.

Fact

Persons with type 1 diabetes are not able to produce insulin due to an immune disorder affecting the pancreas. That is why they require regular insulin injections to control their blood glucose levels. On the other hand, persons with type 2 diabetes are able to produce insulin, but it may not be enough or may not work properly. Such persons may be prescribed oral medication or insulin injections, or a combination of both by their doctor.

Myth

People with diabetes will eventually have their feet amputated.

Fact

Amputation refers to the removal of a limb or parts of a limb (e.g. foot) as a result of gangrene or death of body tissues from poor blood flow. It happens in people with long standing diabetes that is poorly controlled. People who take care of themselves by going for regular check-ups, taking medication, and living healthy lifestyles can avoid such complications.

Myth

People with diabetes should avoid carbohydrates at all costs.

Fact

Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. As carbohydrates are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables, it is not practical to avoid carbohydrates totally. A better option would be to replace the intake of refined, starchy carbohydrates (e.g. white rice) with whole-grains (e.g. brown rice) instead.

Myth

People with diabetes can safely consume snacks that have “no added sugar”.

Fact

Snacks and candies labelled “no added sugar” or “for diabetics” can be alternative snacks since the former may contain relatively lower sugar content. However, this also means that the sugar in these snacks could have been replaced with artificial sweeteners. Hence, it would be good practice to look at the product contents before purchase, and to consume them in moderation, as snacks labelled “no added sugar” are usually low in nutrient quality.

Myth

People with diabetes feel unwell.

Fact

Not everyone with diabetes feels unwell. In fact, many people with diabetes do not have any symptoms, particularly during the early stages of the condition. They can have diabetes for months, even years, without knowing it. This is why it is important to go for regular health check-ups, so that you can detect the condition early.

Myth

Alkaline water is beneficial in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes

Fact

There is currently no conclusive evidence that ionised alkaline water is beneficial to health. Individuals can achieve good health by adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes the following:

  • Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and low in fats and sugar.
  • Adopt a physically active lifestyle by exercising regularly
  • Maintain a healthy body weight with a BMI of no more than 23 kg/m2
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake
​​

Signs and Symptoms

People with type 2 diabetes can feel well and not experience any symptoms at all. However, there may also be symptoms that develop gradually and are sometimes so mild they go unnoticed.

Here are some symptoms that diabetes can cause:

Feeling hungry all the time. Feeling tired. Having blurred vision. Feeling thirsty despite drinking lots of water. Losing weight despite good appetite. Itching skin especially around the genital area. Frequent passing of urine. Poor healing of cuts and wounds
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Feeling tired
  • Having blurred vision
  • Feeling thirsty despite drinking lots of water
  • Losing weight despite good appetite
  • Itching skin especially around the genital area
  • Frequent passing of urine
  • Poor healing of cuts and wounds

Complications

The high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) levels in uncontrolled diabetes can damage both nerves and blood vessels. As blood vessels supply blood to various organs, this can eventually lead to complications such as:

Kidney disease

Foot disease such as numbness, ulcers, and even gangrene

Eye disease

Nerve disease which can lead to problems such as erectile dysfunction and diarrhoea

Heart disease such as angina and heart attack

Stroke

Tips for Caregivers

Being diagnosed with diabetes can be overwhelming. As a caregiver, you want to help your loved ones enjoy the fullest and healthiest life possible.

The first step to becoming a caregiver to your loved one is to learn as much as you can about diabetes and what lifestyle changes are needed. Going through the change alone can be daunting, so why not make the changes together as a team or family.

Exercise or shop for diabetes-friendly groceries together, then cook and have meals together. Many lifestyle changes that improve the health of someone with diabetes can also benefit everyone.

Where possible, accompany your loved ones to their medical appointments. Listen, share, and ask questions to help your loved ones get the best care possible from the healthcare team.

Finally, in the process of being a good caregiver, don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

Recognise signs and symptoms

Know what signs and symptoms to look out in a crisis so you can help the person seek immediate attention. Some crises to look out for are:

Signs and symptoms

Shakiness, sweating, weakness, dizziness, irritability, hunger, headache, mood swings, staggering gait

What to do:

  • Check blood glucose level to confirm; give a glass of fruit juice or 3 to 4 teaspoons sugar in water. Keep some sweets like a bar of chocolate to take for when symptoms occur

  • Repeat the above measures in 10 to 15 minutes if blood glucose level is still below 4.0 mmol/l

  • Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms persist or if the patient loses consciousness

Signs and symptoms

Thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, drowsiness, blurred vision

What to do:

  • Check blood glucose

  • Check urine for ketones if blood glucose is over 240 mg/dl (> 13 mmol/l)

  • Continue to drink plenty of water

  • Seek medical attention if symptoms persist

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or diabetic coma is a life-threatening condition that develops when there is too little insulin in the body. This is more common in persons with type 1 diabetes. Without insulin, the body cannot use glucose (sugar) and breaks down fat and protein for energy instead. In the process, it produces a poisonous substance known as ketones. If left untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis can be fatal.

Signs and symptoms

Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, extreme drowsiness, rapid breathing, flushed skin, sweet fruity odour to breath

What to do:

  • Check that blood glucose levels are above 15mmol/l

  • Check urine for ketones. Urine dipstick tests for ketones are available for home use

  • Seek immediate medical attention

Check their blood glucose level

Help the person monitor their blood glucose levels. This requires conducting a blood glucose test at home using a glucometer. Ask the doctor or nurse to help you buy a glucometer.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before doing the test

  • Ensure the person's hand is clean. You can rinse the hands in lukewarm water, then dry them to improve circulation for a better sample

  • Do gentle massage of the hands before pricking the finger to improve circulation

  • When pricking the finger, use the side of the fingertip rather than the front top so it's less painful

  • Apply gentle pressure on the finger pad with the sides pushed out to get a better sample

Your doctor will advise how often the blood test is required.

Manage their diet

Get help from a dietician on how to plan meals and adjust the diet. Make positive affirmations each time the person makes a healthy food choice and encourage them to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet. Here are some tips:

  • Use My Healthy Plate as a guide for planning meals

  • Choose a variety of foods from the four food groups

  • Keep meals regular

  • Be mindful of portion sizes when serving food

Encourage them to be physically active

Encourage the person to move around more and sit less. Let them know that they do not have to exercise long and hard to reap health benefits. Short bouts of activity break up prolonged seating and improves fat metabolism.

During physical activity, be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Have some sweets or fruits (e.g. apple) on standby, in case they feel dizzy or weak.

Give them their medication

Most persons with diabetes may also have other medical condition(s) such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol level, and may be on medication for such problems. Know what medication(s) the person under your care is taking; understand how it works and its potential side effects. Inform the doctor immediately if the person experiences any reaction to the medication(s).

As a caregiver, ensure that medication is taken or given (in the case of insulin injections) on time and regularly as prescribed by the doctor. Some people with diabetes are afraid of insulin injections, which causes non-compliance in their treatment. Helping them overcome their fear is an important role you can take on.

Care for their feet

Foot care is very important in persons with diabetes. The person with diabetes may develop foot problems arising from either nerve damage, also called neuropathy, or poor circulation. When sensory nerves of the foot are damaged, the ability to feel sensations, such as pain, is lost and one may be unaware of a wound or breakdown of skin that can lead to infection. Diabetic foot ulcers are serious because they do not heal well and cause gangrene that can lead to amputation.

It is important to keep the blood glucose level under control to minimise the risk of foot problems. As a caregiver, ensure that you assist in the care of the feet every day:

  • Wash and inspect feet daily and seek medical care if you spot a problem

  • Look for changes in skin colour or feeling

  • Gently rub skin lotion over the feet, but not in between the toes

  • Trim toenails straight across and file the edges

  • Protect feet from extreme temperatures

  • Use proper and comfortable foot wear at all times

Additionally, visit the doctor at least once a year for foot examination, and more often if foot problems arise.

RESOURCES

 

Screen For Life

Get screened today. Find out what screenings are best for you and your loved ones.

 

Your Health. In Your Hands.

With HealthHub Track by your side, you have everything you need to take control and beat diabetes.

 

Know your BMI

Take the right steps and BEAT diabetes. Start by calculating your BMI.

​​

87
Beat Diabetes Step By Step
Back to Top