Diabetes Week 12 – 18 July

Written by Communications volunteer, Leesa.

Diabetes is a condition caused by having too much sugar in the blood.

Diabetes is a serious and complex health condition affecting 1.7 million Australians. It is the seventh and eighth leading cause of death in females and males respectively, and the fourth largest contributor to overall disease burden in Australia.

Diabetes covers a range of conditions where the glucose (sugar) in the blood becomes higher than normal.  High glucose levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your body.  This can lead to long-term health issues including kidney, eye and heart disease and nerve damage.  Depending on the type and severity of the disease, these can have an impact on your quality of life.

Some common signs and symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, urination and tiredness, slow wound healing, persistent infections, hot flashes and fatigue.

There are four types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Pre – diabetes
  • Gestation diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is lifetime disease often found in children or early adulthood, but it can occur in any age.  Diabetes attacks and destroys pancreas where the insulin produces.  That is why people with diabetes need daily injections of insulin because they don’t produce insulin by themselves.  

Risk factors:  Family history, genetics, geography and age.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85 to 90 percent of diabetes.  People with Type 2 diabetes still produce some insulin, but not enough or doesn’t work as well as it should.   Diabetes can be managed by lifestyle changes as such as losing weight, eating healthily and regular exercise, but in many cases they will need medications or insulin.

Risk factors: weight, inactivity, family history, cultural background, age, gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Pre-diabetes is when the glucose is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  The insulin in your body is not working as effectively as it should.    People with Pre-diabetes are advised to change their lifestyle by eating healthily, increasing exercise and losing weight.  In a third of people will pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes only occurs in pregnancy, affecting between 5 to 10 percent of pregnant women.  All pregnant women have a test for gestational diabetes between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.   Pregnant women can still have a healthy baby, but it is important to manage the risk of having complications during the pregnancy.  When the baby is born gestational diabetes goes away, but a risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life remains for the mother and baby.

Risk factors: age, family or personal history, weight and cultural background.

The complications of diabetes can be life threatening or disabling and include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Eye damage (retinopathy)
  • Foot damage
  • Skin conditions
  • Hearing impairment
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Connect Health & Community provides a range of services to help those living with diabetes in all its forms.  Our Diabetes Education, Dietitian, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Dental, Community Nursing and Counselling services can all help you best manage your condition and get the most from life.

For more information or to make an appointment today, call us on 03) 9575 5333.