Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia with almost 1.1 million Australians currently diagnosed. In the past year over 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes and least 2 million Australians have pre-diabetes, which puts them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Up to 58% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented in the high risk (pre-diabetes) population.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition (it lasts for a long time, often for someone’s whole life).
When our bodies work to convert glucose (sugar) from food we eat into energy, a hormone called insulin is released from the pancreas. Insulin acts like a key that unlocks the cells and allows glucose in to be used as 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 in any form, it can’t move into the cells to be converted into energy, instead the glucose stays in the blood and this is why blood glucose levels are higher in people with diabetes. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes the pancreas (a large gland behind the stomach, stops making insulin). Without insulin, the body’s cells cannot turn glucose (sugar) into energy. Without insulin the body burns its own fats as a substitute. Unless treated with daily injections of insulin, people with type 1 diabetes accumulate dangerous chemical substances in their blood from the burning of fat. This can cause a condition known as ketoacidosis, this condition is potentially life threatening if not treated.
People with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin injections every day of their lives. They must test their blood glucose levels several times daily. The onset of type 1 diabetes typically occurs in people under 30 years, but can occur at any age. About 10-15% of all cases of diabetes are type 1.
Cause of Type 1 Diabetes
Although there is a strong family link with Type 1 diabetes, the exact cause is still not known. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and we also know that it has nothing to do with lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle however, is very important in helping to manage type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
These symptoms may occur suddenly. If they occur, see a doctor. Through a simple test, a doctor can find out if they’re the result of type 1 diabetes.
Managing Type 1 Diabetes
While there is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, the disease can be managed through maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular blood glucose testing and insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes
The most common form of diabetes (affecting 85-90% of all people with diabetes) is Type 2 diabetes. While it usually affects older adults, more younger people, even children, are getting type 2 diabetes .With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes some insulin but it is not produced in the amount the body needs and it does not work effectively.
Type 2 diabetes results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although there is a strong genetic predisposition, the risk is greatly increased when associated with lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, insufficient physical activity, poor diet and the classic ‘apple shape’ body where extra weight is carried around the waist.
Type 2 diabetes can often be managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity. However, over time most people with type 2 diabetes will also need tablets and many will also need insulin. It is important to note that this is just the natural progression of the disease, and taking tablets or insulin as soon as they are required can result in fewer complications in the long-term.
There is currently no cure for type 2 diabetes.
Cause of Type 2 Diabetes
While there is no single cause of type 2 diabetes, there are well-established risk factors. Some of these can be changed and some cannot.
You are at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes if you:
- Have a family history of diabetes.
- Are over 55.
- Are over 45 and overweight.
- Are over 45 years and have high blood pressure.
- Are over 35 years of age and identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
- Are Pacific Islander or from an Indo- Chinese cultural background.
- Are a woman who has given birth to a child over 4.5 kgs (9 lbs), or had gestational diabetes when pregnant, or had a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs are dismissed as a part of ‘getting older’. By the time type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the complications of diabetes may already be present. Symptoms include:
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
It is estimated that up to 60% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented. People at risk of type 2 diabetes can delay and even prevent this disease by following a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Regular physical activity
- Making healthy food choices
- Managing blood pressure
- Managing cholesterol levels
- Not smoking
While there is currently no cure for type 2 diabetes, the disease can be managed through lifestyle modifications and medication.
Complications of Diabetes can include:
- Kidney damage.
- Increased likelihood of infections.
- Eye damage.
- Poor blood circulation in legs and feet, potentially leading to lower limb amputation
- Damage to lower limb nerves.
- Higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sexual impotence.
The Daughterly Care
Joyful Living Approach™
Our Daughterly Care Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Caregivers are able to assist with all aspects of Diabetic management and care.
Examples of this could include: monitoring of a blood glucose levels, insulin administration, healthy diet advice, skin integrity assessment, personal care, doctor’s appointments and general day to day support. At Daughterly Care, we tailor our client directed care plans to meet individual needs and preferences. We are happy to adapt care-plans at any time and if needed, liaise on your behalf with your G.P. and/or other community organisations.
Contact us today to arrange an obligation free in home consultation so we can help you discover the best solution to meet your care needs. Call us on (02) 9970 7333.