This National Diabetes Week, 9-15 July, Bass Coast Health’s Diabetes Education team is urging people living with diabetes in the Bass Coast to access the support and information they need.
More than 1.2 million Australians have diabetes (excluding gestational diabetes), with the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes steadily increasing with age.
Bass Coast Shire has the highest population of people living with diabetes in Gippsland - 7% against the national average of 5.6% - largely due to the municipality having an ageing and elderly population.
“People with diabetes need not let the condition define them and they can live a healthy and fulfilling life,” Bass Coast Health Diabetes Educator Claire Gatto said.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your blood glucose, often referred to as blood sugar level, is too high.
Glucose is our body’s main source of energy and comes primarily from the carbohydrate foods we eat: cereals, bread, pasta, rice, pulses, milk, fruit, starchy vegies, baked goods made from flour, most dairy products, fruit, cane sugar and honey.
Glucose needs the hormone insulin, made by our pancreas, to take the glucose from the bloodstream into our cells or muscles, to be used for energy.
If the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or doesn’t use insulin well, glucose then accumulates in the bloodstream and doesn’t reach your muscles. This is the reason why with high blood glucose levels, you can feel low energy levels. Consistently high levels of glucose in your bloodstream can damage the blood vessels and, ultimately, cause complications to the eyes, the kidneys and the feet, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes.
Type 1 affects approximately 10% of people diagnosed with diabetes in Australia. While we know that there is a genetic predisposition, the onset of type 1 diabetes is often triggered by environmental factors.
Type 1 diabetes can be managed well with the support of a diabetes healthcare team.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition that requires regular monitoring. In some people however, intensive lifestyle modifications and weight loss can lead to remission.
In most cases, gestational diabetes ‘disappears’ after the birth of the baby. However, there is a 50% likelihood that the mother can develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. The child also has a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life.
“Lifestyle changes such as diet, physical activity, keeping your emotional and physical wellbeing in check, losing weight if needed, adhering to prescribed medication regimens and quitting smoking are all important in successfully managing diabetes,” another of BCH’s Credentialled Diabetes Educators, Vivienne Prestidge, said.
“In addition, having health appointments at regular intervals throughout the year - with your GP, Endocrinologist, Diabetes Educator, Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist, Optometrist, Podiatrist and Dentist - are essential to prevent or limit the complications of diabetes.”
Symptoms of diabetes may include increased thirst and hunger, passing urine more often, or having blurred vision or troublesome skin infections.
“If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you will benefit from having a diabetes check-up with your doctor as these are some of the symptoms of high blood sugar levels or underlying diabetes,” Ms Prestidge said.
BCH’s Credentialled Diabetes Educators help patients manage their diabetes through lifestyle, glucose monitoring and medications. They are experienced in insulin therapy including insulin pumps and new monitoring technologies.
Importantly, an educator assesses individual needs and assists people living with diabetes to meet their own health goals to prevent diabetes complications.
Patient Kenneth Dipper appreciated the support of BCH’s educators.
“It’s never a problem when I ask the educators for guidance and they always treat me well,” he said.
“That gives me confidence in being able to manage my diabetes because I’m told what to do and I’m monitored.”
Type 2 diabetes runs in families so has a strong genetic link. Approximately 85% of all people in Australia living with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.
In addition to the non-modifiable risk factors of genes, ethnicity and advancing age, there are some modifiable lifestyle factors such as increased weight or waist measurement, eating a diet higher in processed foods, inactivity, and emotional or medical stress, which can all contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes.
To see if you are at risk, go to: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/the-australian-type-2-diabetes-risk-assessment-tool-ausdrisk?
Appointments to any of the diabetes services with Bass Coast Health can be made after receipt of a referral from your GP to BCH Access Intake via fax to: 9102 5307 or email firstname.lastname@example.org