Keep diabetes in mind all year round
Monday 13 July 2020
Central West health clinicians are busy spreading the word about diabetes prevention to mark National Diabetes Week from 12–18 July.
Central West Hospital and Health Service Diabetes Nurse Educator Corina Gray said this year’s Diabetes Week theme – Heads Up – was designed to highlight the mental and emotional health impact of living with diabetes.
Ms Gray said people living with diabetes could make up to 180 extra decisions each day covering everything from food to medication to exercise and more just to stay well and healthy?
“Mentally and emotionally that is a lot of stress to deal with,’’ she said.
“That’s why this year’s theme aims to raise awareness of the mental and emotional challenges of managing diabetes.’’
Ms Gray said diabetes currently was the world’s fastest-growing chronic disease and was already the sixth leading cause of death in Australia.
But for many the diagnosis was being made too late, thereby putting them at risk of life-threatening or serious health issues.
“Diabetes is the name given to a group of different conditions in which the body cannot maintain healthy levels of a type of sugar called glucose in the blood,’’ Ms Gray said.
“The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, manufactured in your pancreas – a gland behind your stomach.
“When your body cannot make enough insulin, or if the insulin is not working properly, it cannot break down glucose into energy.
“Glucose then builds up into high blood glucose levels which can then cause diabetes.
“Every day, about 62 Queenslanders are diagnosed with the condition, including two people with Type 1 diabetes and 60 people with Type 2 diabetes.
“Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent form of diabetes and is actually the fasters growing chronic condition in Australia.
“It can usually be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with medication when necessary.
“Type 1 diabetes is less common and must be managed with regular doses of insulin.’’
Symptoms for Type 1 can be remembered by the 4Ts:
- Toilet – are you going to the toilet a lot?
- Thirsty – do you have an unquenchable thirst?
- Tired – are you more tired than usual?
- Thinner – have you recently lost a lot of weight?
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Always feeling hungry
- Feeling very tired
- Blurry vision
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
- Numbness or pain in hands or feet
- But there are often no symptoms at all in the early stages.
Ms Gray said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were particularly at risk of developing diabetes and this genetic predisposition was compounded by a range of other factors such as poor nutrition, obesity and lack of exercise.
“If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person it is almost four times more likely that you will have diabetes than will your non-Indigenous neighbour,’’ she said.
“The other thing about diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families is that it occurs at a younger age in Indigenous families.
“It makes sense, therefore, for us to do everything possible to reduce the rate of diabetes in all our communities, as well as to assist those with diabetes to self-manage so that they do not develop complications.
“That’s why everyone should be aware of diabetes all year round and see your doctor or primary health care centre if you have any concerns or symptoms.
“We also need to find ways to reduce both the overall rate of diabetes in our communities and the poor health people experience because of the complications of diabetes.
“This is something that many people can do for themselves.
“Proper diet and exercise can help you avoid getting diabetes in the first place and can also help you manage diabetes if you do have it.
“If people with diabetes eat healthy food, have a healthy body weight, and are physically active they can be strong and healthy.
“If people with diabetes eat unhealthy food and are not physically active, their blood sugars will be high and they will be unhealthy.
“They will suffer complications like stroke; blindness, heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, foot problems and risk having amputations.’’
Some ways of managing diabetes if you have it, or to help you avoid getting it:
- Limit your intake of junk foods such as sugary drinks, sweets, cordials and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
- Managing weight – If you are overweight losing weight is one of the best ways to improve your blood sugars and health and reduce your risk of complications. Maintaining good portion control and limiting junk foods is the best way to keep your weight in check.
- Avoid saturated and trans fats: Foods high in saturated fats include butter, coconut milk and cream, fatty meats, cream, cakes and biscuits and pastry’s like pies and sausage rolls.
- Exercise helps to manage blood sugars and weight as well as general health.
- Alcohol should be limited to no more than 2 standard drinks per day and everyone should have regular alcohol-free days
- Attend regular check-ups, take your medications and monitor your blood sugars as advised by your health care teams.
- See a dietitian for individualised dietary advice for healthy weight and managing and preventing diabetes.
Keeping people informed about diabetes all year round: Central West Health Diabetes Educator Corina Gray.
For further information contact:
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379