Diabetes is a serious complex condition which can affect the entire body. Diabetes requires daily self-care and if complications develop, diabetes can have a significant impact on quality of life and can reduce life expectancy. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, you can live an enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it.
How does diabetes affect the body?
When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar which is the main source of energy for our bodies. Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short term health complications.
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 bread, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yoghurt and sweets, it can’t be converted into energy.
Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. After eating, the glucose is carried around your body in your blood. Your blood glucose level is called glycaemia. Blood glucose levels can be monitored and managed through self-care and treatment.
What are the common types of diabetes?
There are different types of diabetes; all types are complex and serious. The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas no longer produces the insulin the body needs and requires life-long treatment. It’s one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in developed nations and represents 10-15% of all cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin and the insulin is not working effectively. It represents 85-90% of all cases of diabetes and can often be managed by changes in diet and increased exercise.
Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnancy and mostly disappears after the birth. It is usually detected via a blood test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. There is a 30-50% chance of developing it within 15 years after pregnancy.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
In type 1 diabetes, symptoms are often sudden and can be life-threatening; therefore, it is usually diagnosed quite quickly. In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs can go unnoticed or mistaken as signs of ‘getting older’.
Common symptoms include:
- Being more thirsty than usual
- Passing more urine
- Feeling tired and lethargic
- Always feeling hungry
- Having cuts that heal slowly
- Itching, skin infections
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
- Gradually putting on weight (type 2)
- Mood swings
- Feeling dizzy
- Leg cramps
How can I prevent diabetes?
Current type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can be. In 58% of cases, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and following a healthy eating plan may help prevent Type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes can also often be managed with diet and exercise. However, some women may require insulin injections during pregnancy.
Myths & Facts
There are many myths about diabetes. To cut through the confusion, here is a breakdown of some common misconceptions:
Myth: Diabetes is not serious.
Fact: All types of diabetes are serious and can lead to complications if not well managed.
Myth: All types of diabetes are the same.
Fact: The most common types are 1, 2 and gestational, however, there are other less common forms. Each type has different causes and may be managed differently. Diagnosis by a doctor is key.
Myth: Only obese people develop diabetes.
Fact: Whilst being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, some people who are overweight may develop it whilst some people who are of a healthy weight may develop it!
Myth: No one in my family has diabetes, so I don’t have to worry.
Fact: Family history is one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of diabetes, have a family history or any concerns at all, consult a doctor at Mingara Medical. Call 02 4302 3333 or book an appointment online at www.mingaramed.com.au.