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Over one million Australians have diabetes but amazingly half of these people dont even know it yet....

diabetesDiabetes is quickly becoming a major health problem for modern countries as less exercise and poor nutrition habits are seeing this potentially life threatening disease become more and more common.

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterised by high blood glucose levels resulting from the body not producing insulin or using it properly. Insulin is a hormone needed for glucose to enter the cells and be converted to energy.

There are two main types of diabetes, and one that is related to pregnancy:

Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent):

This type represents 10 to 15% of all cases of diabetes and occurs when the pancreas gland no longer produces the insulin needed. It is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in developed nations but it is not caused by lifestyle factors.

Diagnosis: usually in childhood or young adulthood, although it can occur at any age.

Symptoms: symptoms can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness and fatigue, and irritability.

Treatment: lifelong insulin injections every day, regular blood glucose level tests, healthy eating plan and regular physical activity.

Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent):

this stype represents 85 to 90% of all cases of diabetes and occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin and the insulin is not working effectively. A genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes and risk factors include overweight/obesity.

Diagnosis: usually in adults over the age of 45 but it is increasingly occurring at a younger age.

Symptoms: sometimes symptoms go unnoticed as the disease develops gradually. Symptoms may include any of those for Type 1 diabetes plus blurred vision, skin infections, slow healing, tingling and numbness in the feet. Sometimes no symptoms are noticed at all.

Treatment: over time treatment may progress from lifestyle modification only, to lifestyle modification and/or insulin injections.

Gestational diabetes

This is a form of diabetes which occurs in pregnancy and should disappear after the birth. It occurs in less than 9% of pregnancies (the mother does not have diabetes before pregnancy) and increases the risk of pregnancy complications. It significantly increases the risk for women to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. The incidence of gestational diabetes as high as 20% amongst Aboriginal women and those from high risk ethnic groups, including India, China, Asia and Pacific Islands.

For more information on diabetes visit the Diabetes Australia website.


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