National Diabetes Week runs from July 10 to 16. This year the theme is all about reducing the stigma around diabetes, which affects around 1.8 million Australians.
Often people with diabetes experience feelings of shame. This can lead to them not sharing their diagnosis and getting support when they need it the most.
To help raise awareness, our diabetes educator Tess Amoore sheds light on the various types of diabetes and how a diabetes educator can help post-diagnosis.
What is diabetes?
Put simply, diabetes is when the body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose, a form of sugar, in the blood. This can have major implications for the entire body.
Potential implications can include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, anxiety and blindness.
According to Diabetes Australia, common symptoms include:
- Being thirstier than usual
- Weeing more
- Feeling tired and lethargic
- Always feeling hungry
- Having cuts that heal slowly
- Itching, skin infections
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
- Gradually putting on weight (type 2)
- Mood swings
- Feeling dizzy
- Leg cramps
How is diabetes diagnosed?
Diabetes is usually picked up through a blood test to look at your fasting blood sugar levels.
There’s also an HbA1c blood test available, which provides an indication of the average blood sugar reading over the previous 3 months.
Managing a diabetes diagnosis
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will explain how to manage the condition, depending on which type you have. Keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range will be key to preventing short-term and long-term complications.
You can find more information about how to manage each type of diabetes on the Diabetes Australia website.
At Bluff Road Medical Centre, we have a team of experts who can help with everything from navigating a diagnosis, to management and emotional support.
Talking to a diabetes educator
Diabetes educator Tess Amoore says education is an important part of learning to live with diabetes.
“I find that if clients don’t actually understand the reasons why they have to take steps to manage their diabetes, it is more difficult for them to make to small changes required for long-term health,” she says. “Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for that moment where they’re able to make the behavioural changes they need to make.”
Tess’s approach is to provide support and advice to patients around healthy eating guidelines and refer to other specialists where necessary. “I provide an overview of the things they need to be aware of and do, help them with insulin and teach them how to use equipment from blood glucose meters to continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Exercise physiology and podiatry (because of the risk of infections) are also really important. We look at annual cycle-of-care checks as part of my consultation (for example podiatry and eye checks).”
Like to know more?
If you have a family history of diabetes or you are concerned you may be experiencing symptoms, please get in touch. We offer the full suite of medical care, from diabetes screening to management and support beyond diagnosis.