National Diabetes Week 2020

We want to encourage you to come along and see a Doctor for a Diabetes test. Many Australian are walking around totally unaware that they have Diabetes. They are equally unaware of the dangerous situation they are in.

Below you will find some of the facts:

Type 1 Diabetes

The pancreas produces insulin. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition. The immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise etc. There is no cure and it cannot avoided.

Type 1 diabetes:

  • Occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin
  • Represents around 10 per cent of all cases of diabetes and is considered a chronic childhood condition
  • Onset is usually abrupt and the symptoms obvious
  • Symptoms can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness and blurred vision
  • Type 1 diabetes is managed with insulin injections several times a day or the use of an insulin pump.

What happens if people with type 1 Diabetes don’t receive insulin?

Without insulin the body burns its own fats as a substitute. This then releases chemical substances in the blood. Without ongoing injections of insulin, these chemical substances will accumulate and can be life threatening.

What causes type 1 Diabetes?

The exact cause of type 1 Diabetes is not known. It does have a strong family link and it is believed to be unpreventable. We also know that it has nothing directly to do with lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important in helping to manage type 1 Diabetes though.

At this stage nothing can be done to prevent or cure type 1 diabetes. Symptoms include:

  • Excessively thirst
  • Urinating more
  • Feelings of tiredness and lethargy
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Having cuts or abrasions that heal slowly
  • Itching, skin infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unwarranted mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps.

These symptoms may occur with no warning. See a doctor if you are struggling with any of these symptoms. Your doctor can find out if they’re the result of type 1 Diabetes through a simple test.

Management, care and treatment

Type 1 Diabetes is controlled with insulin injections several times a day or the use of an insulin pump. While your lifestyle choices may not have caused type 1 Diabetes, the choices you now make can reduce the impact of diabetes-related complications. These include kidney disease, limb amputation and blindness.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition. The body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. Type 2 Diabetes can be associated with lifestyle risk factors. Type 2 Diabetes also has strong genetic and family related risk factors.

Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Is diagnosed when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (reduced insulin production) and/or the insulin does not work effectively and/or the cells of the body do not respond to insulin effectively (known as insulin resistance)
  • Represents 85–90 per cent of all cases of diabetes
  • Usually develops in adults over the age of 45 years. It is increasingly occurring in younger age groups including children, adolescents and young adults
  • Is more likely in people with a family history of type 2 diabetes or from particular ethnic background
  • For some the first sign may be a complication of diabetes such as a heart attack, vision problems or a foot ulcer
  • Is managed with a combination of regular physical activity, healthy eating and weight reduction. As type 2 diabetes is often progressive, most people will need oral medications and/or insulin injections in addition to lifestyle changes.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes runs in the family. If you have a family member with diabetes, you have a genetic disposition to the condition.

People may have a strong genetic disposition towards type 2 diabetes. The risks are greatly increased if people display a number of modifiable lifestyle factors. These include high blood pressure and being overweight or obese. Having little physical activity, poor diet and the classic ‘apple shape’ body where extra weight is carried around the waist are also indicators.

People are at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes if they:

  • have a family history of diabetes
  • are over 55 years of age
  • are over 45 years of age and are overweight or high blood pressure
  • are over 35 years of age and are from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background
  • are over 35 years of age and are from Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background
  • are a woman who has given birth to a child over 4.5 kgs, or had gestational diabetes when pregnant

A woman who has had a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.


Many people with type 2 diabetes display no symptoms. As type 2 diabetes is commonly (but not always) diagnosed at a later age, sometimes signs are dismissed as a part of ‘getting older’. By the time type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the complications of diabetes may already be present.

Symptoms include:

  • Being more 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
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps

Managing Type 2 Diabetes

There is currently no cure for type 2 diabetes. The condition can be managed successfully through lifestyle changes and medication. Type 2 diabetes is progressive and must be managed effectively to prevent complications.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Most women will no longer have diabetes after the baby is born. A very small percentage will continue to have high blood glucose levels after delivery. It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia. It affects thousands of pregnant women every year. Between 12% and 14% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes. It generally occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.

All pregnant women should be tested for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. Women who have risk factors for gestational diabetes should be tested earlier in their pregnancy.

Who is at increased risk of gestational diabetes?

Women at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes include those who:

  • Are aged 40 years or over
  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes or a mother or sister who has had gestational diabetes
  • Are above the healthy weight range
  • Have had elevated blood glucose levels in the past
  • Are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
  • Are from a Melanesian, Polynesian, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern or Indian background
  • Have had gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies • Have previously had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Have previously given birth to a weighing more than 4.5kg
  • Are taking some types of anti-psychotic or steroid medications • Have gained weight too rapidly in the first half of pregnancy.

Please do be aware however that Gestational diabetes can also occur in women with no known risk factors.

What to do after being diagnosed?

For many women, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be distressing. Do remember that the majority of women with gestational diabetes have a healthy pregnancy. They will usually go on to have a normal delivery and a healthy baby.

The treatment is simple. A healthy eating plan, regular physical activity and monitoring and maintaining blood glucose levels in the target range.

If you are concerned or are showing any of the symptoms of Diabetes then go along and visit your doctor. Better safe than sorry!