If I asked you to identify three symptoms of diabetes, could you do it?
Chances are you probably can’t.
But chances are you’re probably not alone. New research has revealed that 97 per cent of us don’t know much about diabetes; we don’t know what the risk factors are, we don’t know how many types there are and even if we were suffering we wouldn’t know the symptoms.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in her own words.
And that’s a little scary when you know that as many as 3.6 million Australians have diabetes or pre diabetes.
I didn’t know much about diabetes until my cousin was diagnosed a couple of years ago.
It came out of the blue. She was a 26-year-old seemingly healthy women. She was anything but overweight. She exercised regularly and had a pretty healthy diet. When she was feeling tired, when she started getting headaches, when she started feeling thirsty all the time and when her vision started going blurry, we assumed she was just stressed because she was the last person I expected to have health problems.
Turns out we were wrong.
So what happened?
She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She was unlucky – because there is no cure for Type 1.
There are three types of diabetes out there – Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.
This week is National Diabetes Week. And I think it’s important we all know what diabetes is and how we can reduce our chances of getting it.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin (the body needs insulin to turn sugar into energy). Type 1 affects around 10 – 15 per cent of diabetics. We don’t know a lot about the cause of Type 1, but it’s thought to be related to an auto immune problem, where the body’s own immune system attacks itself. There’s no cure for Type 1 and sufferers need to inject themselves with insulin every day. For my cousin, that’s four times a day – at breakfast, lunch, dinner and just before bed.
Gestational diabetes occurs in around five to eight per cent of pregnancies and usually commences in the 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancies. Women are at a greater risk of gestational diabetes when they’re over the age of thirty, have a family history of Type 2 diabetes and/or are overweight. It’s usually managed with eating plans and exercise. Some women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop Type 2 later.
Then there’s Type 2. And that’s probably the one we need to make some noise about right now. That’s because diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in Australia and around 85 per cent of diabetics suffer from Type 2.
And while there is no cure, it can be totally preventable depending on lifestyle. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include things like poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity. Unlike Type 1, the symptoms for Type 2 can be more general and include feeling run down or fatigued.
According to Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line Medical Director, Dr. Ian Boyd: ‘Although Type 2 diabetes is the world’s fastest growing chronic disease and one of the leading causes of death in Australia, the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line research highlights a worrying lack of knowledge around lifestyle choices that can lead to or advance the condition, and strategies that can help minimise risk and progression.’
Research shows that improved diet and increased exercise are the best ways to reduce the development of Type 2 diabetes.
In fact, it can reduce it by almost 71 per cent.
The other thing to note is that many people who have Type 2 diabetes don’t even know that they have it, either because they aren’t aware of the symptoms, or the risk factors, or of the importance of being tested. And that’s concerning because undiagnosed, diabetes can lead to serious health complications like strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease and blindness.
According to Diabetes Australia symptoms of diabetes include:
• Being excessively thirsty
• Passing more urine
• Feeling tired and lethargic
• Always feeling hungry
• Having cuts that heal slowly
• Itching, skin infections
• Blurred vision
• Gradually putting on weight
• Mood swings
• Feeling dizzy
• Leg cramps
Anyone who’s experiencing those symptoms, should talk to an expert and seek professional advice.
Now let me ask you that question again: If I asked you to identify three symptoms of diabetes, could you do it?
*All info taken from Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line information and Diabetes Australia website.
As part of Mi Health, members with Medibank hospital cover can call a Medibank nurse with any health questions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Medibank nurses complement the care given by GPs and other health professionals so consumers can trust they’ll deliver sound advice, and answer most questions.
If Medibank nurses think a GP should be seen, they can use their clinical knowledge to call your local GP clinic, explain the condition to assist getting you an appointment.