Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Over 85% of people who have diabetes have type-2 diabetes. People with type-2 diabetes make some insulin (a hormone which helps your body deal with sugar) but either do not make enough or it doesn’t work properly on their cells.
This leads to your body having too much sugar floating around in the blood stream which in-turn causes a lot of damage to all different parts of the body including the kidneys, blood vessels (leading to poor circulation, heart attack or stroke), eyes and brain. As you can see it is very important to treat diabetes properly if you have it. The 1st step is to know you have it!
Who does it affect?
A recent study has shown that type 2 diabetes affects 7.4% of Australians over the age of 25 years.
What is more alarming is that for every person who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes there is one person who has type 2 diabetes but has not been diagnosed. This means there are potentially 500,000 people in Australia with diabetes that are not being treated.
Who has the highest risk of diabetes?
Those who have a higher than average risk of developing diabetes include:
· Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders aged over 35
· People of Pacific Island, Indian or Chinese origin over 35 years
· People over the age of 45 who are obese or have high blood pressure.
· People who have poor diet and do not exercise enough.
· People who have had heart attack, angina, stroke or circulation problems
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Whilst is it impossible to tell what your blood sugar level is without testing, having diabetes can lead to a number of symptoms which you may notice. These include:
· Excessive thirst.
· Excessive or frequent urination.
· Tiredness & lethargy.
· Excessive hunger.
· Slow healing wounds.
· Weight gain.
· Mood changes.
· Leg cramps.
If you have any of the above symptoms and are concerned about diabetes, you should consult your doctor. In order to confirm or deny if you have diabetes, the doctor will need to do a blood test.
The doctor will first ask you to go and get a fasting blood glucose test (to see how much sugar is in your blood after not eating for 12 hours). If the result of this test is not clear or certain they will then order a glucose tolerance test. A glucose tolerance test is where you are given a sugar solution to drink and your blood sugar is tested 2 hours later to see how your body handled the sugar (or not).
Type-2 diabetes – Management & Treatment
Treatment of type-2 diabetes is a stepped process which has different options based on how easy or hard it is to get your sugar levels under control. Different options include:
· A healthy diet – this is the starting point. Obviously the healthier you eat the easier it is to control your blood sugar levels as well as a whole lot of other health indicators such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
· Exercise – this is of course only where you are given clearance by your doctor to do so. Start at an appropriate level. It is no good to die of a heart attack running a marathon if you have not done much exercise for a long time.
· Oral anti diabetic medications. There are several different types and they work in different ways. Your doctor would usually start you off on one type and then increase your dose, add another different medication or change your medication depending on how well your body responds to the new medication.
· Monitoring blood sugar levels. It is important to regularly test your blood sugar to see if the treatment that your doctor is trying has worked. Depending on the severity of your diabetes and on how long you have been trying to treat it, your doctor may test your sugar levels in the surgery, or may have you test them at home. Blood sugar test are done using a Blood Glucose Monitor, these can be purchased in the pharmacy and the test involves a prick to the finger to get a small droplet of blood which is then analysed by the machine.
It may be necessary to test your blood several times a day to see how your body reacts to things such as meal times, exercise and sleep. This can influence the way your diabetes needs to be controlled.
· Looking for and treating long term complications of diabetes such as kidney damage, eye problems and foot problems. As a diabetic it is very important to care for your eyes and feet. Have your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist, and check your feet regularly for signs of sores that are not healing. Try using a foot balm (e.g. Eulactol) daily to keep your feet in good condition. This is because poor circulation resulting from diabetes may lead to slow healing and even ulcers.
· Treating other medical conditions that may be associated with diabetes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity. Because diabetes can impact on all these problems, it is important to keep them under control to avoid other complications.
So you can see that treating diabetes basically means finding a way to control your blood sugar levels so that you don’t suffer long term problems from this. To do this it is important to treat your body well and keep generally healthy.
This is by no means a comprehensive review of diabetes treatment and those who want more information are encouraged to come into the store where we can print you some more fact sheets, alternately visit the diabetes Australia website which has a lot of useful information.