National Diabetes Week 2018 – “It’s about time”

#NDW2018 focuses on the importance of early detection and treatment for all types of diabetes

By Dr Amelia Lake

More than 1.2 million Australians live with diabetes. That’s a sobering statistic, made all the more powerful by the high proportion of people who live with undiagnosed, silent diabetes. According to the latest report on Australia’s health, for every four adults with diagnosed diabetes, there is one more who remains undiagnosed.  Delays in diabetes diagnosis can have a serious impact on health, as high blood glucose levels can damage large and small blood vessels leading to serious complications. The tragedy of this is that today’s treatments and technologies mean that glucose levels can be managed effectively, and complications can be prevented or delayed. So, the aim of Diabetes Australia’s 2018 National Diabetes Week It’s about time campaign is to raise awareness of the symptoms and signs of all types of diabetes, and the importance of early detection and timely treatment.

Type 1 diabetes: Each year, around 640 Australians are hospitalised with high blood glucose levels due to undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, and are at risk of life-threatening complications such as diabetes ketoacidosis. The 4Ts are the early signs of type 1 diabetes:

  • Thirst – unquenchable thirst
  • Toilet – going to the toilet a lot
  • Tired – more tired than usual
  • Thinner – recent, unexplained weight loss

If you notice these or other symptoms, including itchy skin infections and cuts that don’t heal, mood swings, headaches, dizziness or leg cramps, talk to your doctor. More information on the symptoms, detection, management and care of type 1 diabetes are available here.

Type 2 diabetes: To quote Diabetes Australia CEO, Greg Johnson: “If there’s one check every adult should have, it’s the HbA1c”.  This advice is crucial for the early detection of type 2 diabetes, which does not have clearly defined early symptoms, often resulting in delays in diagnosis of around 7 years. HbA1c is a simple blood test, which measures average blood glucose levels over the past 8-12 weeks.  In late June, the Parliamentary Friends of Diabetes participated in a diabetes screening program at Federal Parliament House to raise awareness in the wider community of the impact and prevalence of diabetes and to demonstrate the ease with which someone can get checked for type 2 diabetes.  We urge all adults: assess your risk of type 2 diabetes using the AUSDRISK online assessment tool, talk with your GP, or try one of the discounted home-based blood tests available during National Diabetes Week. More information on the symptoms, detection, management and care of type 2 diabetes are available here.

What to do if you have diagnosed diabetes: It’s important to realise that there is a lot of support and information available to you. You might like to read ‘adjusting to life with diabetes’, a factsheet developed by the ACBRD in collaboration with the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). The NDSS is an initiative of the Australian Government administered with the assistance of Diabetes Australia. Your health professional will be able to register you with the NDSS at diagnosis. In addition to providing diabetes management supplies (e.g. needles, blood glucose strips), the NDSS provides information, education and advice, including a range of other helpful resources. You can also get plenty of support and up-to-date advice from your state or territory-based NDSS agent and diabetes advocacy organisation: Diabetes Victoria, Diabetes NSW and ACT, healthylivingNT, Diabetes Queensland, Diabetes SA, Diabetes Tasmania, Diabetes WA.

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