One in four Australian adults has either diabetes or pre-diabetes and the number of cases has doubled over the last 20 years. These were the preliminary findings of Australia's first national study of diabetes (AusDiab Study), conducted recently.
Diabetes is a serious condition causing high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. If left untreated, diabetes can cause complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, impotence and leg amputation.
The study found that for every known case of diabetes, there is one person who has the disease but doesn't know it. Over 400,000 cases remain undiagnosed and most feel perfectly well!
Could you have diabetes?
Diabetes Australia recommends that you see your doctor for an annual test if you tick one or more of the following risk factors:
- I am over 50, and I have high blood pressure, or am overweight, or have a family history of diabetes
- I am over 65
- I have heart disease
- I had high sugar levels in pregnancy
- I have previously had a borderline high blood sugar test
- I have 'polycystic ovary syndrome' and I am overweight
- I am over 35 and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Islander, from the Indian sub-continent or Chinese
Take your diabetes seriously
There is no cure for diabetes...yet. However, with proper care, people with diabetes can lead a good quality of life and greatly reduce their complication risk.
See your doctor regularly. Regular checks will detect any complications early. Your doctor will check your blood pressure, weight, feet and eyes at regular intervals. Blood tests are important to check sugar levels, cholesterol/triglycerides (blood fats) and kidney function. An annual test for protein in the urine detects early kidney problems.
What you can do for your diabetes
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Eat less fat (especially saturated fat) and more high fibre carbohydrate foods, such as bread, cereal, fruit and starchy vegetables. A little sugar and one or two alcoholic drinks a day are acceptable.
- Exercise regularly. Try to do at least 30 minutes on most, preferably all, days.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a major cause of serious complications.
- Foot care. Wash and dry your feet daily and check carefully for blisters, scratches or corns. Never walk barefoot.
- Do regular blood glucose tests at home, especially when sick.
Speak to your doctor for more details or visit http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.