You can lower your risk of diabetes with the right lifestyle and preventative tests.
Did you know that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, limb amputations and blindness in working age adults? It also increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke fourfold and is associated with depression and anxiety.
Currently, diabetes affects 1.7 million Australians.
What are the different types of diabetes?
Our bodies need glucose (sugar) from food for energy and the hormone involved in their conversion to useable form is insulin. Unfortunately, dysfunction of this mechanism is on the increase.
There are several types of diabetes, or insulin dysfunction.
The traditional classifications of diabetes are type 1 – caused by an autoimmune factor; and type 2 diabetes.
Medical researchers now think there are five types of type 2 diabetes.
The first is severe autoimmune diabetes and is similar to type 1 diabetes. This type of diabetes is typically found in young people who are not overweight and have an autoimmune disorder that stops them producing insulin.
The second type, called severe insulin-deficient diabetes, also involves young people who are not overweight. They are also not making enough insulin, but this is not caused by their immune system.
The third type, severe insulin-resistant diabetes, happens to people who are overweight and whose bodies are making insulin, but their cells are not responding to it.
The fourth type is mild obesity-related diabetes and the fifth mild age-related diabetes.
Women may also suffer from gestational diabetes mellitus when they are pregnant, but this often disappears after the baby is born.
Other types of diabetes include MODY or maturity onset diabetes of the young. This includes several hereditary forms of diabetes caused by a genetic mutation and disrupting insulin production; LADA or latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, a disorder in which progresses slowly; and neonatal diabetes mellitus that occurs in the first six to 12 months of life.
How can I avoid diabetes?
In 2019 the International Diabetes Federation stated four n five parents would have trouble recognising the warning signs of type 1 diabetes in children, says registered nurse Judy Gatwood. “This can be fatal so seek advice early. “
Judy works with patients to ensure they have a full understanding of their health, potential risk factors and preventative measures they can take to improve their wellbeing.
For patients who already have a diagnosis, she takes time to help patients understand their diagnosis and the steps needed to manage their condition and improve their health.
Judy says Type 2 diabetes is 80% preventable, but often diagnosed too late when complications are already present.
“A Cape Byron Medical Centre diabetes educator along with your GP can assist you in learning the warning signs, understand diagnosis, manage the disease well if it is diagnosed and prevent complications.
“Diabetes is by nature a progressive disease sometimes this is out of our control.”
“However, prevention where possible is key.”
You can lower your risk of a lifestyle-related diabetes by making sure you exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, eat healthy foods like fruit and vegetables as well as lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, and stay away from simple sugars such as white bread, cakes and biscuits, chocolate, sweets and soft drinks.
You also need to make sure your blood pressure is in the healthy range, that you do not have high cholesterol and that you do not smoke.
If you have an inherited form of diabetes, you need to work with your doctor to keep your body as healthy as possible.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Some of the symptoms of diabetes include constant thirst or hunger, going to the toilet a lot, feeling lethargic, having cuts that heal slowly, blurred vision, unexplained changes in your weight, headaches, feeling dizzy, and leg cramps.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your GP.
How do you test for diabetes?
Your doctor may use a fasting blood test – you can’t eat or drink for eight hours before – or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test taken any time during the day to diagnose diabetes.
This will depend on symptoms and, often, tests need to be repeated on two separate days to confirm results.
Your GP can use these tests to see if you are pre-diabetes, when you have a good chance of turning your health around.