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A Simple Guide to Understanding Diabetes: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment

National Diabetes Week (9-16 July 2023) is an important time to raise awareness about diabetes, a chronic condition that affects millions of Australians. In this blog post, we will provide a simple guide to understanding diabetes, including the different types, common signs and symptoms, and available treatment options. By increasing our knowledge about diabetes, we can empower ourselves and support those living with the condition.


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterised by high blood sugar levels. It occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) or effectively use the insulin it produces. There are primarily three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.


What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that usually develops during childhood or adolescence. In this form of diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump to manage their blood sugar levels.


What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and usually develops later in life, although it can occur at any age. This type of diabetes is primarily influenced by lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, and excess body weight. Unlike type 1 diabetes, individuals with type 2 diabetes may still produce insulin, but their bodies become resistant to its effects. Lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management, are often recommended as the first line of treatment. In some cases, oral medications or insulin injections may be prescribed to help control blood sugar levels.


What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and affects about 10% of Australian women. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make it harder for the body to use insulin effectively. While gestational diabetes usually resolves after giving birth, it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Treatment involves monitoring blood sugar levels, adopting a healthy diet, and, if necessary, insulin therapy.


What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

It is crucial to recognise the signs and symptoms of diabetes to seek early diagnosis and treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • unexplained weight loss
  • increased hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • slow healing of wounds
  • recurrent infections

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.


What are the treatment options for diabetes?

Managing diabetes involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and regular monitoring. Here are some key treatment options:

  • Healthy Lifestyle: Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is essential. Regular physical activity, such as walking or cycling, helps control blood sugar levels and improve overall health.
  • Medications: Depending on the type of diabetes, oral medications or injectable insulin may be prescribed to manage blood sugar levels effectively. It is important to follow the prescribed treatment plan and consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.
  • Blood Sugar Monitoring: Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels helps individuals with diabetes make informed decisions about their treatment. This can be done using glucose meters or glucose monitoring devices.
  • Education and Support: Diabetes education programs and support groups can provide valuable information, guidance, and emotional support to individuals living with diabetes. Engaging in such resources can help enhance self-management skills and improve overall well-being.


Diabetes care at Prince of Wales Hospital

The refurbishment of the Diabetes Centre at Prince of Wales Hospital was proudly funded by the Foundation. The Centre provides care for people who have been diagnosed with type 1 and 2 diabetes, diabetes caused by disorders of pancreas, steroid induced diabetes and diabetes caused by other conditions such as cystic fibrosis. The multi-disciplinary team includes endocrinologists, podiatrists, dietitians, diabetes nurse educators and administration staff.

You can find the Diabetes Centre on Level 2 of the High Street Building (Building 2) or you can give them a call on 02 9382 4600 for more information.


Watch this story about Jasper, Hunter and Ruby and their journey at the Diabetes Centre:

As we celebrate National Diabetes Week, let’s increase our understanding of diabetes. Remember, early diagnosis, proper treatment, and adopting a healthy lifestyle are key to managing the condition effectively. By supporting and raising awareness about diabetes, we can create a more inclusive and informed society that empowers individuals living with this chronic condition.

Please support our local hospital to continue their breakthrough research for better care and treatment for patients.