National Diabetes Week

The Diabetes Australia National Diabetes week event is held in the second week of July each year. The event which runs from the 13th- 17th July 2015 aims to increase the awareness of diabetes across the country. Here at Wesley LifeShape Clinic, we encourage everyone to evaluate their risk of diabetes and take positive steps to reduce it.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition in which the hormone insulin is no longer produced in sufficient amounts or where cells do not respond adequately to the insulin that is produced. Insulin transports glucose from the bloodstream to cells where it can be used for energy. Glucose enters your bloodstream following digestion of foods such as breads, cereals, fruit, starchy vegetables, milk, yoghurt and sweets. Glucose cannot be transported from the bloodstream to cells for use in people with diabetes and gives rise to an increased blood glucose level, this condition is called glycaemia.

For more information on how insulin works Click here.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the most prevalent in our society. Other varieties include gestational diabetes, diabetes insipidus and pre-diabetes. Type 1 is characterised by the autoimmune destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. This means insulin is no longer produced. Approximately 1 in 10 diabetic Australians have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 is the most common form and is characterised by a reduced production of insulin and an inability of the bodies tissues to respond fully to insulin. It is often referred to as a ‘lifestyle’ disease because many of the risk factors involved with this type are lifestyle related.

Diabetes in Australia

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic health condition in Australia and in the next five years it is expected to be the number one burden of disease. At least 1.7million Australians currently have diabetes and an estimated 2 million have pre-diabetes or are at a high risk of developing diabetes. A staggering 275 people are diagnosed with diabetes every day. The total annual cost for Australians with type 2 diabetes is up to $6 billion including healthcare costs, the costs of carers and Commonwealth government subsidies. Diabetes is also a challenging problem for public health worldwide.

Risk factors

While family history, genetics, ethnicity and history of gestational diabetes may play a role in your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, lifestyle factors also provide a significant risk. Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even prevented in up to 58% of cases through lifestyle modification and early detection of warning signs.

Modifiable lifestyle risk factors include:

  • Being overweight (body mass index over 25) Click here to calculate your excess weight
  • Waist measurement above 94cm for men or 80cm for women
  • Poor diet; high fat, high sugar, high salt and low fibre
  • Limited physical activity
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (increased blood glucose)
  • To check your risk of diabetes head to http://www.checkmyrisk.org.au/

Signs and symptoms

Some types of diabetes have no symptoms and can go undiagnosed for a long time. Some common symptoms can include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Being more thirsty than usual
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Lack of interest and concentration
  • A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • If you show these signs and symptoms, consult your health professional.

How is Diabetes managed?

There is currently no cure for diabetes. The condition requires lifelong management. Treatment aims to prevent complications by controlling blood glucose levels as well as blood pressure and maintaining a healthy body weight. Management depends on the type of diabetes but can include:

  • Weight management
  • Regulating diet
  • Physical activity and exercise
  • Self monitoring of blood sugar levels by regularly doing a finger prick test
  • Medication and possibly insulin
  • Quitting smoking

Complications

Elevated glucose levels in the blood can lead to serious long term complications including diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, nerves and teeth. In people with diabetes, cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death with an estimated 65% of all cardiovascular death in Australian occurring in people with diabetes or pre- diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy (eye disease) affects 15% of diabetics and can cause reduced vision or even blindness. Diabetic neuropathy (nerve disease) to the lower limbs affects around 13% of people suffering the disease. Diabetes can also damage the small blood vessel in the kidneys (nephropathy) making the kidneys become less efficient or completely dysfunctional. Diabetes is now the leading cause of end stage kidney disease.

References
https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/News–Events1/Whats-New/National-Diabetes-Week/
https://www.idf.org/about-diabetes
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/diabetes_explained?open
http://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/guidelines/diabetes/6-lifestyle-modification/6-lifestyle-modification/

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