Spotlight On: Diabetes
Diabetes is a disorder of sugar processing, which leads to an unhealthy blood sugar level.
High blood sugar levels cause the typical symptoms of excessive thirst and needing to urinate more often. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage vital organs, including the kidney and eyes.
Around 1.35 million Australians have diabetes.2 This includes the three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is where the body’s immune system attacks and damages the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. When this happens, the body can no longer produce insulin to regulate blood sugar. So lifelong insulin injections are required.
- Type 2 diabetes is where certain cells in the body become resistant to insulin. This means they stop taking up sugar from the blood. Risk factors include a family history of type 2 diabetes, poor diet, not enough physical activity and being obese.
- Gestational diabetes happens during pregnancy. The condition usually disappears once the baby is born. But a history of gestational diabetes can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on people managing chronic conditions like diabetes.
For instance, at the beginning of the pandemic, there were significant concerns over the stockpiling of medicine. There were some short-term shortages in some pharmacies.
But more concerning was that some patients — including those with diabetes — deferred or skipped important testing.
In the last few months in Australia there has been a 40% drop in routine pathology testing. This means over 60,000 Australians are not getting the tests they need every day.
“It’s very concerning that some people have been avoiding important medical appointments,” says Dr Harry Nespolon, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
“The last thing we want is large numbers of health issues and worsening chronic conditions coming after this pandemic.”
He goes on to urge people to “take care of their health, keep up any regular appointments and tests, and see their GP for concerns.”
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National Diabetes Week (12 – 18 July 2020)
One way for people with diabetes to support their health is through National Diabetes Week (12 – 18 July 2020). This is an annual event to raise awareness of diabetes and the theme this year is Heads Up on Diabetes.
This year will shine the spotlight on the emotional and mental health struggles of people living with diabetes.
Managing diabetes can be mentally and emotionally taxing. People with diabetes contend with so many extra decisions—up to 180 each day—related to:
Managing such challenges can lead to anxiety, distress and depression. In fact, more than one in three people living with diabetes struggles with their mental health.
Spotlighting this issue is more important than ever, given the additional challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A feature event of National Diabetes Week is the Live Your Life Virtual Expo.
This is a free virtual event that will bring together experts to share the latest information on diabetes. Its aim is to support people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, their families and carers.
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