More than 15,500 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in West Leicestershire, and doctors believe there could be many more unaware they have the condition.
They are urging people to check whether they are at risk as part of national Diabetes Week, which runs to Saturday. If they are, they should contact their GP practice for a blood test.
Symptoms can include feeling very thirsty, needing to go the toilet frequently - particularly at night, feeling very tired, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision and cuts taking a long time to heal. However, not everyone with diabetes has symptoms.
Diabetes increases blood sugar to dangerous levels. Left untreated, it can lead to other serious health problems including heart disease, nerve damage, eyesight problems and lower limb problems, sometimes leading to amputations.
West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has established a special diabetes scheme and is encouraging all GPs in the area to sign up to it to increase the level of diabetes testing. Early diagnosis can make a major difference in managing the long-term effects of the condition.
Caron Williams, West Leicestershire CCG diabetes lead and assistant director for strategy and planning, said: "Diabetes already affects almost 1 in 20 people in our area and is on the increase. It is important to be diagnosed early so blood glucose levels can be monitored and controlled. Anyone at risk should visit their GP for a blood test.
"Diabetes is one of the biggest challenges facing health services today. It is important we support those who need to manage their lifestyle – such as by changing their diet and taking more exercise – to maintain a healthy weight.”
In the UK, nearly three million people have diabetes. But there are thought to be around 850,000 people undiagnosed. Doctors predict the numbers will rise by 20 to 30 per cent in the next 10 years.