Scientists say diabetes is a serious complex condition made up of five different diseases. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, you can live an enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it. It does not discriminate, rather distorts normal functioning of any viable body.
It involves problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) release insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat.
Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when your body does not respond appropriately to insulin. As yet, there is no cure.
There are different types of diabetes; all of which are complex and serious.
The three main types are as follows:
- Type 1
- Type 2
- Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes can be managed well but the potential complications are the same for type 1 and type 2 diabetes including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety and blindness.
For our bodies to work properly we need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy. In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body. When people with diabetes eat glucose, which is in foods such as breads, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yoghurt and sweets, it can’t be converted into energy.
Instead of glucose being turned into energy, it streamlines in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. After eating, the glucose is carried around your body. Your blood glucose level is called glycaemia. Blood glucose levels can be monitored and managed through self-care and treatment.
Early diagnosis, optimal treatment and effective ongoing support and management reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
Did You Know? Diabetes…
- Is the leading cause of blindness in adults
- Is a leading cause of kidney failure and dialysis
- Increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times
- Is a major cause of limb amputations
- Affects mental health as well as physical health. Depression, anxiety and distress occur in more than 30% of all people suffering from diabetes
Prevalence of Diabetes:
According to recent statistical figures, all types of diabetes are increasing in prevalence:
- Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10% of all diabetes and is increasing
- Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% of all diabetes and is increasing
- Gestational diabetes in pregnancy is increasing
Type 2 diabetes is increasing at the fastest rate. There are large numbers of people with silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes which may be damaging their bodies. An estimated 2 million Australians are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are already showing early signs of the condition.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the major consequences of the obesity epidemic. The combination of massive changes to diet and the food supply, combined with massive changes to physical activity with more sedentary work and less activity, means most populations are vulnerable to type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (sometimes referred to as GDM) is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Most women will no longer have diabetes after the baby is born. However, some women will continue to have high blood glucose levels after delivery or during the initial stage of conceiving. It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy.
Genes also play a part with higher risk of type 2 diabetes in Chinese, South Asian, Indian, Pacific Islander and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
In type 1 diabetes, symptoms are often sudden and can be life-threatening; therefore, it is usually diagnosed in a relatively short time span.
In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs can go unnoticed being seen as part of ‘getting older’.
Therefore, by the time below symptoms are addressed, complications of diabetes may already be present.
- Being more thirsty than usual
- Peeing more often
- Feeling drained and lethargic
- Frequent hunger pangs
- Having wounds and bruises that heal slowly
- Itching, skin infections due to sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
- Gradually putting on weight (type 2)
- Mood swings
- Feeling dizzy
- Leg cramps
Over time, high blood sugar can damage and cause problems with your:
- Heart and blood vessels
- Nerves, which can lead to trouble with digestion, the feeling in your feet, and your sexual response
- Wound healing
Solution to the Problem:
The best way to avoid these complications is to manage your diabetes well.
- Take your diabetes medications or insulin on time.
- Monitor your blood glucose.
- Eat right, and don’t skip meals.
- Visit your doctor regularly to check for early signs of trouble.