In Australia, there is an estimated 1.2 million people living with diabetes based on self-reported data, which makes up about 4.9% of the total population. This estimate includes people with type 1, type 2, and unknown type diabetes, but excludes gestational diabetes.

Without knowing anything about it, diabetes can seem to be quite a scary thing. However, once you find out more about diabetes – the different types of diabetes, the symptoms of the condition, and the treatments – you will be better informed about it.

How Diabetes Affects The Body

The diabetic condition can be explained through the function of the hormone called insulin. Insulin is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy in our bloodstreams. When you have diabetes, your body does not produce insulin in sufficient amounts or even does not produce it altogether.

With the lack of insulin, the body is unable to convert glucose contained in food into energy; the glucose then stays in the blood, resulting in high blood glucose levels. This can be dangerous for your body and lead to potential complications.

Different Types Of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational. Here’s what each type of diabetes entails.

Type 1 diabetes

This type of diabetes is an autoimmune condition whereby the immune system automatically destroys the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin, thus affecting the production of insulin in the body. It is usually diagnosed in early childhood. The exact cause behind type 1 diabetes is as of yet unknown and this condition is managed with daily insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes among patients. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin or loses its capacity for normal insulin production over time. Usually, this type of diabetes develops in adults over the age of 45 years and can be preceded by a condition called prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, some patients may eventually require insulin injections as well.

Gestational diabetes

This is a form of diabetes that may occur to some women during pregnancy. It is diagnosed when blood glucose levels appear to be higher during the pregnancy period. The majority of patients no longer have diabetes after the baby is born, but some women continue to maintain higher blood glucose levels even after delivery.

There are also lesser known types of diabetes such as cystic fibrosis-related diabetes and monogenic diabetes, but these are far less common.

Symptoms Of Diabetes

The onset of the symptoms of diabetes depend on the type; for type 1 diabetes the signs can come suddenly and drastically, whereas type 2 patients may experience their symptoms in a gradual and subtle manner.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Often feeling thirsty and hungry
  • Frequent urination
  • Slow-healing cuts
  • Blurred vision and headaches
  • Dizziness and mood swings
  • Changes in weight

Treating Diabetes

For those who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the most common recommendation is maintaining a healthy diet and improving overall health. Some may even be referred to a nutritionist to help get their diets back on track.

Eating a diet full of fresh, nutritious foods can help. Keeping away from alcohol and high-sugar foods is another way to go. Being active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day will do a tremendous amount of good as well. Overall, it is about leading a healthier lifestyle, not taking on some sort of crash diet.

Those with type 1, and in some instances type 2 diabetes, will need to inject insulin several times a day to keep their blood sugar from getting too high, or use an insulin pump. Self-monitoring will let one know what their blood sugar level is in order to take corrective action to bring them to normal levels.

If you have a history of diabetes in your family or would just like to find out more about the condition in general, you can always speak to your GP about it at your next medical check-up. At Coolaroo Clinic, our team of medical professionals are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Book an appointment today.