What is Diabetes

For our bodies to work properly we need to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood.  Glucose is the main source of energy for our bodies and is carried around the body in the blood stream.  Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas, and is needed for glucose to enter the cells and be converted to energy.

In people with diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make any insulin, or enough insulin to work effectively.

Glucose comes from the carbohydrate foods we eat. Carbohydrate foods include bread, pasta, rice, cereals, fruits, starchy vegetables, milk and yoghurt. The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose which then enters the blood stream. For glucose to enter all the cells in the body and be used for energy, insulin must be available. To learn more about healthy food choices click here for our online learning program.

For people with diabetes, the glucose stays in the blood instead of being turned into energy. This is why blood glucose levels are higher in people with diabetes. High blood glucose can cause short and long term damage to the body.  Complications can impact many areas of the body including heart, brain, kidneys, eyes and feet.


The role of a carer

Caring for those with a disability, diabetes and the elderly poses distinct but at times similar challenges.

The carer’s role within the health care team is a valuable one. Keeping medical appointments, assisting with medication delivery and day-to-day support of nutrition and activity needs for an individual is vital to their health and survival.

When caring for someone with diabetes, establishing a patient management care plan with the GP can be a great help.

This plan can give a carer guidance and structure to the support of the person in their care.

Family and carers can also explore the local community for support programs. Discussing care arrangements with a diabetes team, GP and/or practice nurse will help you access services like homecare nursing to reduce the burden on you and boost quality of care for the individual.


Preventing Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can not be prevented, is it an auto-immune condition. This type of diabetes usually occurs in childhood or young adulthood, although it can occur at any age.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or the insulin is not working effectively. Type 2 diabetes represents 85 -90% of all cases of diabetes. Risk factors include family history, ethnic background and age however lifestyle factors can also contribute to developing type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips to help you reduce your risk.

  • Check your risk factors. You can do this by taking the Aus D risk assessment.
  • Reduce your weight.
  • Eat a well balanced diet.
  • Quit smoking.

Gestational diabetes (GDM) occurs during pregnancy. Affects between 10 and 20 per cent of Australian women during pregnancy. It is important to remember that the majority of women with gestational diabetes have a healthy pregnancy, normal delivery and a healthy baby. While there is no one reason that gestational diabetesoccurs and risk factors include being over 25, a family history of type 2 diabetes and ethnic background. You can reduce your risks being eating a healthy well balanced diet and participating in regular physical activity.

Type 1.5 diabetes is a non-official term that is sometimes used to refer to a form of type 1 diabetes known as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). The term type 1.5 refers to the fact that the condition is a form of type 1 diabetes that can share some features that are more commonly associated with type 2 diabetes. Type 1.5 diabetes is diagnosed during adulthood as are most cases of type 2 diabetes. Type 1.5 diabetes also has a slow onset, similar to type 2 diabetes. However, type 1.5 diabetes is an autoimmune disease like type 1 diabetes and will almost certainly require insulin therapy at some point in the future.

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