With close to 3.2 million people in Australia having diabetes or are at serious risk of developing it, nearly everyone knows someone affected or at risk.
Unfortunately, despite diabetes being the sixth leading cause of death and a large majority of causes being preventable, community awareness is low.
Diabetes is a ‘silent killer’, meaning you may feel fine even as your condition gets worse, until eventually it may be too late.
Besides the one million people diagnosed with diabetes, there is up to another 1 million people with the disease who do not know they have it.
On top of this, another 1.5 million people are classed as ‘pre-diabetic’ and at high risk of developing diabetes.
What is diabetes?
For our bodies to work properly we need to convert the glucose (sugar) in our food to energy. A hormone called insulin is needed for this process. Diabetics either do not produce insulin or not enough of it, meaning glucose stays in the blood stream and is not converted to energy.
This leads to high blood sugar levels which, when not managed, leads to major health problems that can cause blindness, losing limbs and death.
Type 2 diabetes makes up to 90 per cent of cases, and it is largely preventable.
Genetics and lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, low physical activity and poor diet are major contributors to developing diabetes.
Having a checkup with your doctor is very important if any of the above indicators apply to you, especially if you are over 45-years-old and overweight. The quicker you identify the condition the better, as you can take steps to manage it and help avoid the very serious complications.
If you are at risk of diabetes, by losing as little as 4.5kg and changing your diet, you can greatly delay or prevent developing diabetes at all. There are a number of programs that are subsidised by Medicare that can help you do this. Talk with your doctor for more information.
There are also many resources available, and the more you know, the easier it is for you to manage your condition.