How much do you know about Diabetes?

This is a special week.  It’s National Diabetes Week – I know I have blogged about diabetes before, and as I think I said then, its a topic very close to my heart.  See featured image.

This isn’t me looking for sympathy, so far from that, but rather its one to get you talking about diabetes and perhaps understanding more of what its even about.

Diabetes Queensland have an excellent overview of what the day is all about here:  http://www.diabetesqld.org.au/get-involved/what’s-on/2016/july/national-diabetes-week.aspx

I can hear some people saying, how common is it anyway?  Diabetes Australia have these numbers on their website – 280 Australians develop diabetes everyday, ie. one person is diagnosed every 5 minutes.  Staggering, huh?

This includes the three main types – Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes, as described below by Diabetes Queensland:

Type 1 diabetes – is a life-long autoimmune condition that is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood but can occur at any age. 

In type 1 diabetes, the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin.  As the body needs insulin to survive, people with type 1 diabetes must replace this insulin every day.   At present, insulin can only be given by injections or through a pump. Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 10 per cent of people with diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting approximately 85 to 90 per cent of all people with diabetes. The body still produces some insulin, but it may not be enough or work well enough to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range. 

 Type 2 diabetes can be treated with lifestyle modifications such as a healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity but often medications such as tablets or insulin may also be required.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes may not be obvious. Tiredness, lethargy, thirst and blurred vision can often be put down to normal daily stresses, age, or general wear and tear. Getting people diagnosed early remains a key priority for Diabetes Queensland.

Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs in pregnancy.  Between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes. All women are checked for gestational diabetes between weeks 24 to 28 of pregnancy.

The good news is gestational diabetes usually goes away once the baby is born….For mothers, there is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, with a 30 to 50 per cent chance of developing it within 15 years after your pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will reduce the risk significantly.

While different in some ways, they are similar in that every ‘type’ of diabetes requires daily management and care.  This can be exhausting.

As the support person of someone with diabetes, it is always on my mind.  Can you imagine having to be so cautious of your every action and the impact it will potentially have on your blood glucose level??  Or, as a parent, trying to pre-empt the effect the food your child might (or might not) eat and dose the insulin accordingly?  Massive shout out to all the parents of children with Diabetes – you guys seriously should all be congratulated and celebrated frequently for what you do every single day!

Every time I read about advances in research – I get a little bit excited … and then feel disappointed because it won’t fix it in the short-term.  Until the breakthrough is made and widely available, we continue, supporting our loved ones in their ongoing management of their diabetes.

We must continue to recognise that the person with the diabetes is the most important person in their diabetes management team.  It is paramount we trust their instincts through our support of them.

I continue to remind myself that, yes, I’m a nurse, but I have to put my wife hat on and know I’m the second most important person in the diabetes management team.

As I have been typing this, I’ve realised, it is almost a tribute – well played if I do say so myself – people with diabetes deserve one – this goes out to all the people managing their diabetes (and their support people!)

This week especially, I ask you to talk to someone about Diabetes.

And have a great Diabetes week!!

Featured Image Photo Credit:  Diabetes Queensland

 

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The best you can be.

In the last blog, I talked about knowing your chronic disease risk factors. For most people, this will have been put in the ‘that doesn’t apply to me box…..  It seems bringing up the issue was quite timely!  (Yay, I got something right!)

It was right, because it was World Health Day last Thursday and it was solely dedicated to targeting and ‘beating’ diabetes.  FYI  Diabetes is one of the chronic diseases with lifestyle risk factors I was referring to!

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to give a massive pat on the back to anyone who lives with diabetes.  It is relentless and unforgiving for the sufferer and those around them, especially carers of young people with Type 1 – you’re awesome!

This is probably also the right time to point out the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

As according to Diabetes Australia, Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. We do not know what causes this auto-immune reaction. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented. 

WHEREAS

Diabetes Australia says Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. We do not know what causes type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. Type 2 diabetes also has strong genetic and family related risk factors.

Did you know the difference?  Here’s a challenge for you – go and tell someone else about the why these conditions are so different.

Make it your conversation starter for the week.  Or you could also share the staggering statistic, that 1 in 11 people have diabetes (World Health Organisation) or that if – Diabetes was a country, it would be the third largest in the world (Diabetes NSW).  Everyone likes to be the bearer of good news, sorry, its not you today! (when you start the conversation).

People with Type 1 Diabetes account for 10-15% of all diabetes cases.  The management of this condition can be heartbreaking and exhausting!  It’s a condition close to my heart and an imminent cure is most certainly on my hopes and dreams list, as I’m sure it is for every other affected person and their families.

Back to the main story (!) – for the purpose of this discussion, we are talking predominantly about Type 2 Diabetes – as its the one that is preventable, and also the one posing a major global health challenge.

As responsible humans, we need to recognise and talk about Type 2 Diabetes, no longer can we as a society, ignore it in any way!  In fact, we need to take concentrated action to make a change.

Sturt Eastwood, the Diabetes NSW CEO, recently told the Huffington Post ‘… Australians need to learn to read the signs of diabetes better.’

Do you know if you are suffering early symptoms or have you used the AUSDRISK assessment tool?  A list of symptoms can be found at: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/type-2-diabetes

You can thank me later, I’ve helped you out here.  You can do YOUR assessment at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/diabetesRiskAssessmentTool

This tool calculates a risk category and advises you on what, if any action, you should take.  I say it again, the best action you can take is to know your risk!  What would be even better is if you shared this knowledge and risk assessment tool with someone around you who you think might also benefit??

Apologies if this is a bit confronting, but at some stage you might just be grateful you read this blog.  Maybe you haven’t been feeling quite right and it is just the call to action you have been searching for?

I say it again, its about managing your health and taking concentrated action to be the best you can be!