Tell me more about Diabetes...
Diabetes is a condition in which too much glucose (sugar) circulates in the blood. Carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta and rice are converted into glucose during digestion and transported into the body’s cells to be used as fuel or stored for later use. In order for glucose to move into cells a hormone called insulin is needed.
Insulin is produced in the beta cells of the pancreas (an organ just under the stomach). Insulin is a ‘key’ to unlock cells to allow this movement of glucose out of the blood. If glucose remains in the blood over a period of time it can damage the tiny blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys and nerves which leads to diabetes complications such as retinopathy (eye damage which can cause blindness), nephropathy (kidney damage which can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis) and neuropathy (damage to the nerves which can cause numbness, pain and malfunction to the areas of the body those nerves reach). The immune system can also deteriorate resulting in infection.
There are three main types of diabetes known as Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational.
Type 1 diabetes
Has no known cure.
Effects 10-15% of all people with diabetes.
Is treated with insulin, usually 4 injections a day or with an insulin pump (also known as an artificial pancreas).
Has a genetic link, meaning family members may also have Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is usually first diagnosed in children or young adults. It is not fully understood why this happens. Type 1 diabetes is termed autoimmune, meaning that the body’s immunity or ‘self-defence’ attacks the beta cells that produce insulin so glucose is unable to move out of the blood into the cells.
Type 1 diabetes is a life threatening condition which needs to be closely managed with daily care.
Type 2 diabetes
Can be managed but never really cured.
Effects 80-85 % of all people with diabetes.
Can be treated with lifestyle changes by increasing exercise and changing diet, taking oral medications (tablets) and /or injectable medications including insulin.
Is associated with age, weight, inactivity and family history.
Type 2 diabetes is related to lifestyle risk factors and is usually diagnosed in adulthood. It is associated with insulin resistance meaning that insulin is produced by the pancreas but it does not work efficiently so some glucose moves into cells but the remainder stays in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is a ‘silent’ condition meaning that most people do not know they have it, so at diagnosis complications may already be present.
Regular reviews by your healthcare team including GP, diabetes educator, dietitian, exercise physiologist and podiatrist will assist with prevention of complications by helping to reduce blood glucose levels and improving your overall health.
Only effects some pregnant women.
Usually disappears after the baby is born.
Can be treated by adopting a healthy eating pattern, regular physical activity and monitoring blood glucose levels.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy when a woman's body cannot cope with the extra demand for insulin production resulting in high blood glucose levels.
Gestational diabetes is managed by monitoring blood glucose levels, adopting a healthy eating plan and performing regular physical activity. However, for some women with gestational diabetes, insulin injections will be necessary for the rest of the pregnancy (approximately 10 – 20%).
Women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and should be tested for diabetes at least every 2 – 3 years. Your healthcare team including your doctor, specialist, dietitian and Credential Diabetes Educator, can help you with blood glucose monitoring, healthy eating and physical activity.
Information in this section is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice or used to alter medical therapy. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.