The ages and stages of diabetes

| July 15, 2013

It is Diabetes Awareness Week, a national event to increase knowledge of this very common condition. Dietitian Lamees Kaoutarani provides facts about risk factors and managing diabetes.

With more than 1.1 million Australians currently diagnosed with diabetes, it is clear that the condition can develop in anyone at any time – it does not play favourites.

Diabetes Awareness Week (DAW) is a one week national event from 14-20 July, aimed at raising awareness of diabetes. Increasing community awareness and knowledge of diabetes can help to reduce the increasing rates of diagnoses and support good diabetes management for those already diagnosed.

Every year, the Australian Diabetes Council (ADC) produces a booklet focused on a particular diabetes-related theme. This year, ADC addresses  ‘The Ages and Stages with Diabetes’ and aims to provide information on how diabetes does not discriminate and can affect anyone at any stage of  life, from birth through to the senior years. Topics range from how diabetes impacts the health and wellbeing of mother and child, the troubles teenagers living with diabetes face during their adolescent years, adulthood and the challenges life throws at you, through to the difficulties faced in our senior years.

As we move through life, unexpected events and health conditions can and do arise. These may include Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Crohn’s disease, gluten intolerance, hypothyroidism and eating disorders to name a few. Within this booklet, such health conditions are considered in terms of how they may and or can impact on diabetes and vice versa.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes affects approximately 3.6 million Australians. Many people are unaware they may have diabetes, and if blood glucose levels are left uncontrolled, diabetes complications such as kidney disease, loss of eye sight, nerve damage and foot amputations can occur. The exact cause of diabetes is unknown; however what we do know are the risk factors.

Improving lifestyle risk factors greatly assists the management of the all types of diabetes and the prevention of complications. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in some instances through adopting a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes a well balanced diet that is filled with a variety of foods from the five food groups while limiting high fat, especially saturated fat, added sugar and high salt foods.

Being physically active also plays a major role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helps in managing the disease. Exercise can itself act as a medication by reducing high blood glucose levels in some instances. However, the management of other related conditions if present, such as PCOS, cystic fibrosis and conditions that require medications, such as steroids, need much consideration to ensure optimal diabetes management.

Take the opportunity to learn more about diabetes and if you are at risk by contacting the Australian Diabetes Council on 1300 DIABETES. You can also visit our website for more information or download the new ‘Ages and Stages of Diabetes’ booklet for more insight on the impact diabetes can have on an individual and their loved ones lives. The booklet will be available from Monday 15 July.