But... what is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce or supply enough insulin to maintain recommended blood glucose level (BGL) ranges 4-8 mmol/L. Insulin is an important hormone produced in the Pancreas, that releases insulin to transport digested food to the muscles to make energy.

 

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes destruction of the insulin producing beta cells, thus ceasing insulin production and causing elevated BGLs. Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are;

Rapid weight loss

Infections and poor wound healing

Excessive thirst

Frequent urination and constipation

Mood changes

Emergency treatment is needed if you suspect you or a child has these symptoms.

 

Eating a healthy diet, partaking in regular physical activity, replacing lost insulin with daily insulin injections or insulin pump therapy and attending four daily blood glucose checks will help maintain BGLs between 4-8 mmol/L. Keeping BGLs within these targets will reduce the risk of diabetes related complications (heart, eyes, kidneys and feet). Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but is often diagnosed in childhood and adolescence. The cause is unknown, but some researchers believe viruses, environmental stress and infections may all be triggers.

 

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) (Late Onset Type 1 Diabetes)

LADA occurs when insulin production slowly reduces over many years. People diagnosed with LADA are often over 30 years of age and require the same diabetes management principals as people with type 1 diabetes.

 

IFG & IGT (Pre Diabetes)

Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) and Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) are both forms of insulin resistance, also known as pre diabetes. Blood glucose levels are often elevated, but are not high enough to diagnose type 2 diabetes. Many people in the community are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some of the risk factors include;

European, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ethnicities

If you are overweight, particularly if storing adipose (fat) centrally

You have poor eating habits and complete minimal physical activity.

You have a history of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

You have a family history of diabetes

You had Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy

Healthy eating, regular physical activity and in some cases regular blood glucose monitoring, can help reduce prediabetes and progression to type 2 diabetes.

 

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes affecting people over the age of 45, but is becoming more prevalent in the younger population. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance which blocks insulin from transporting food to the muscle to make energy, thus causing elevated BGLs. Initially, type 2 diabetes is managed by healthy eating, partaking in regular physical activity, regular BGL monitoring (4-8 mmol/L) and maintaining a healthy weight. This can also help reduce the risk of developing diabetes related complications (heart, eyes, kidneys and feet). As type 2 is a progressive disease, tablets and/or a combination of tablets and insulin injection therapy may also be needed.

 

Other primary illnesses that can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes being diagnosed;

• people with mental illness, treated with antipsychotic medications

• people treated with long term steroid therapy (including some chemotherapy treatments for cancer)

• untreated Hemochromatosis (ineffective handling of the iron stores in the body)

• and others



Diabetes & Pregnancy

If you have pre-existing diabetes, pre-pregnancy counselling can inform you about diabetes and pregnancy management for a healthy delivery. If you have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, you need to make an urgent appointment for education on diabetes and pregnancy management to reduce birth complications and facilitate a healthy delivery.

Please refer to the Links and Resources section to learn more about diabetes.