Over 800,000 people in Australia have diagnosed diabetes – this is three times higher than 25 years ago! Diabetes is often under-diagnosed; many people are on the cusp of diabetes or don’t know that they have it.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (a sugar) in the blood. Blood glucose levels are regulated with the help of “insulin”, a hormone made in the pancreas. Diabetes is caused by a problem with insulin and how it controls blood glucose levels.
INSULIN CONTROL OF BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS
In people without diabetes, the body controls glucose in the following way:
- Glucose comes from food that contains carbohydrates (starch and sugar), and from stores in the liver. After eating, blood glucose levels start to rise.
- Glucose is absorbed into the blood stream and carried to the muscle and other body cells or the brain. Glucose provides the energy to perform everyday tasks, such as thinking, walking, talking and breathing.
- Insulin is “the key” that glucose needs to enter body cells. Insulin is released from the pancreas to allow glucose to move from the blood to the muscles where it can be used and to stop glucose levels in the blood from rising too high.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIABETES
- Develops when the pancreas stop producing insulin, preventingglucose from entering the muscle or other body cells.
- This is caused by the body’s immune system attacking and destroying the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
- Is less common than type 2 diabetes and usually occurs under the age of 30, but can occur at any age.
- Usually comes on quickly and can be severe and life-threatening if treatment is delayed.
- Develops due to a combination of not producing enough insulin and the body not responding properly to insulin (insulin resistance)
- This may be caused by genetic factors but can be triggered or made worse by being overweight and lack of exercise
- Is the most common type of diabetes and usually occur in people over the age of 30 but is now being seen in younger people due to the increase in obesity.
- The onset is usually slow and sometimes difficult to recognise.
- Is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs during the second half of pregnancy when certain hormones stop insulin from working properly
- Is usually detected during a routine screening test at 28 weeks gestation
- Is treated with healthy eating, gentle physical activity and if required, insulin injections.
- Women who had gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so annual blood glucose checks are advised.
SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
All types of diabetes show similar symptoms but the severity is usually greater in type 1 diabetes. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms which is why regular medical check-ups are recommended, especially for those who are more at risk.
The symptoms of diabetes include:
- Tiredness/lack of energy
- Extreme hunger
- Blurred vision
- Excessive thirst
Please seek medical advice if you experience or suffer any of these signs or symptoms.
HOW IS DIABETES TREATED?
Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injections, usually several times a day. For type 2 diabetes, a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential. Several different types of medication, including insulin injections, are available for treating type 2 diabetes.
Other important parts of treatment of both types of diabetes include:
- Regularly monitoring your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
- Having regular checks of your eyes, feet and kidneys to pick up early signs of diabetes complications.