This year between 9 – 15th July marks ‘National Diabetes Week’ and will focus on raising awareness about the early detection of diabetes.
Each day 290 Australians are diagnosed with diabetes, but too many people are being diagnosed too late. Whether it’s type 1 or type 2, this delay in diagnosis is putting many people at risk of major health problems.
Every year as many as 640 Australian’s ends up in hospital with dangerously high blood glucose levels because the early symptoms of type 1 diabetes – severe fatigue, thirst and weight loss – are not recognised. Around half of these hospital admissions are children and teens and if not diagnosed in time type 1 diabetes can be fatal.
In addition, almost half a million Australian’s are living with type 2 diabetes but don’t know it. That’s because the condition is “silent” and can occur without obvious symptoms. When type 2 diabetes goes undiagnosed there is the danger of developing complications like damage to the eyes or kidneys, foot ulcers and even damage to the heart.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to automatically regulate the blood glucose levels which means that the levels of sugar in the blood are too high.
Types of diabetes
With TYPE 1 Diabetes the pancreas cannot make insulin because the cells that produce it have been destroyed. With TYPE 2 Diabetes the pancreas does make insulin but the insulin does not work well, and it needs to produce more.
What to watch out for-you or a someone you love could have diabetes
The warning signs can be so mild that you don’t notice them. That’s especially true of type 2 diabetes. Some people don’t find out they have it until they experience problems from long-term damage caused by the disease.
With type 1 diabetes, the symptoms usually happen quickly, in a matter of days or a few weeks. They’re much more severe, too.
Both types of diabetes have some of the same tell-tale warning signs.
Hunger and fatigue. Your body converts the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy. But your cells need insulin to bring the glucose in.
Being thirstier and peeing more often. The average person usually needs to urinate between four and seven times in 24 hours, but people with diabetes may go a lot more.
Why? Normally your body reabsorbs glucose as it passes through your kidneys. But when diabetes pushes your blood sugar up, your kidneys may not be able to bring it all back in. This causes the body to produce more urine, and that takes fluids.
Going to the toilet more often. You might urinate more, too. Because you’re peeing so much, you can get very thirsty. When you drink more, you’ll also pee more.
Dry mouth and itchy skin. Because your body is using fluids to make pee, there’s less moisture for other things. You could get dehydrated, and your mouth may feel dry. Dry skin can make you itchy.
Blurred vision. Changing fluid levels in your body could make the lenses in your eyes swell up. They change shape and lose their ability to focus.
When to call your GP?
If you’re older than 45 or have other risks for diabetes, it’s important to get tested. When you spot the condition early, you can avoid nerve damage, heart trouble, and other complications. If you have any health concerns it is better to be sure than sorry, so make an appointment with your GP even if it’s just for peace of mind.
How your GP and health care professionals can help:
Whether you are a Type 1 or a Type 2 diabetic there is a team of professionals out there who can help. Primarily this starts with your GP.
Funds are provided to assist the GP help you with a plan to better manage your diabetes. This plan is called a ‘GP Management Plan’. If the GP feels you need more help he or she can recommend Allied Health Professionals such as a Diabetic Educator, Podiatrist, Dietician, Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Optometrist and or Psychologist who are skilled at keeping your diabetes in control. This plan is called ‘Team Care Arrangement’ with many of the appointments being bulk billed (or largely reduced in cost). There is also funding especially provided to diabetics who would like to join group programs (with either an Exercise Physiologist, or a dietician or a diabetic educator) with the first 8 sessions being bulk billed.
Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. That’s why this ‘National Diabetes Week’ aims to raise awareness of the signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Because with earlier detection we can help to reduce the risk of Australian’s developing life-threatening health problems and in turn save lives.