What we should all know about Australia’s biggest health challenge

Every five minutes an Australian is diagnosed with this serious health condition.

What we should all know about Australia’s biggest health challenge

It has been called the epidemic of the 21st century and the biggest challenge confronting Australians.

Every five minutes an Australian is diagnosed with diabetes. That’s 280 of us every day.

Approximately 1.3 million Australians live with diabetes, with around 85 per cent having type 2 diabetes and 13.5 per cent type 1, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The prevalence of diabetes in Australians doubled between 1989 and 2005. In 2014–15, the rate increased from 4.4 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

While these rate increases are nationwide, around 12.8 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over the age of 15 have type 2 diabetes, a large over-representation.

Smokers are 40 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. The more you smoke, the greater your risk. It also increases a diabetic’s chance of developing complications such as eye conditions or heart and kidney disease.

Diabetes warning signs include increased thirst, hunger, urination, fatigue, headaches, dry mouth, blurred vision and unexplained weight loss.

According to Greeshma Patel, a Specsavers optometrist, diabetes is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness, yet few Australians know it can harm your vision. Diabetes may cause irreversible damage to small blood vessels at the back of your eyes. There may be no symptoms until your vision is irreversibly damaged. Patel recommends that people with diabetes have regular eyes checks, every one to two years.

Professor Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia, urges people with type 2 diabetes to discuss it with their family members as they may be at greater risk of developing it.

“Your family members need to know that they may be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and related eye problems and vision loss, and other complications of diabetes,” he says,

Another risk people often don’t associate with diabetes is the development of mental health conditions. Up to 50 per cent of diabetics are thought to also have a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, yet only one in three are diagnosed and receive the necessary treatment.

Discuss your concerns with your GP or contact free services such as SANE, MensLine Australia or Lifeline.

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    Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.





    COMMENTS

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    Ted Wards
    16th Jul 2019
    10:07am
    Diabetes is a totally preventable illness, its created through poor lifestyle choices except in some circumstances. We need to take responsibility for everything we put in our mouths, how much activity we undertake daily. This nonsense of doctors having a tablet for everything is ridiculous and costs lives.
    Intellego
    16th Jul 2019
    11:04am
    In my family, there is a genetic tendency to develop Type 2 diabetes. Most members of my family have it, and it is NOT through "poor lifestyle choices"! I have, alas, developed many of the complications associated with the disease, though the diabetes itself is well-controlled through diet.
    Paddington
    16th Jul 2019
    11:51am
    It is often genetic for sure. And it is not one size fits all. Some have a warning and can control with diet and exercise but others it is more like type one and is difficult to control with diet and exercise alone. One sister was underweight when she was first diagnosed. Our dad was older and very active but still got it. Our mother was different again so it came from both sides and was individual but a double whammy. Another sister was young and diagnosed during giving birth but it stayed controlled for many years but finally needed medication. I suspect there are more types than one and two actually. I did not escape its clutches either.
    maelcolium
    16th Jul 2019
    12:16pm
    Ted, you are completely incorrect. Obesity is only one of several factors, including genetics, that cause diabetes. Your attitude probably extends to mental health where you think people should just get over it - huh? Total ignorance.
    Spud
    16th Jul 2019
    1:13pm
    Totally preventable! Except in some cases ! Lol!
    Franky
    16th Jul 2019
    1:51pm
    Well said Ted, couldn't agree more. Education about diet and health should start in school. But then we would hurt profits of all those companies in the sickness industry, and with it jobs the government so urgently wants to create
    KB
    16th Jul 2019
    11:19am
    Diabetes is not caused by poor lifestyle choices. Diabetes can be handed down. Yes it can be controlled by diet and exercise
    Paddington
    16th Jul 2019
    11:52am
    Not always, KB!
    jackie
    16th Jul 2019
    12:19pm
    KB, my blood sugar levels have been slowly creeping up despite a healthy diet. When it’s genetic it’s different.
    KB
    16th Jul 2019
    11:19am
    Diabetes is not caused by poor lifestyle choices. Diabetes can be handed down. Yes it can be controlled by diet and exercise
    jackie
    16th Jul 2019
    12:15pm
    Mine is genetic. I have never been overweight, always active and have always led a healthy lifestyle. I was diagnosed several years ago and don’t use medication. I have noticed my blood sugar levels increasing over the years and may end up on medication eventually.
    maelcolium
    16th Jul 2019
    12:23pm
    All those people who think this is a self induced illness need to take a chill pill. I have been an sportsman my entire life and discovered I had diabetes when I collapsed during a cyclocross ride. Since that time I have found many in a similar position where there is no family history, nor poor lifestyle choices and yet, like me, they were diagnosed. To raise awareness there is now an Australian road cycle professional team made up entirely of diabetics. A poor diet will make diabetes worse, but there is more to this epidemic that science is yet to discover. Like many, I have to take metformin to assist in controlling my condition, even though my BMI is spot on and I cycle in events.
    ROB
    16th Jul 2019
    12:33pm
    There is a saying, "Genetics loads the gun; Lifestyle pulls the trigger" and with the thousands of people we look after around the world we find this is SO TRUE. Unfortunately the medical system is too quick and forceful to push medication and if you want to know what a "Trigger" is then this is one! The medical system has made it too easy to take pills. If you really want a long, happy, healthy life then ask for a FUNCTIONAL Medical Practitioner as they look beyond the drugs to find the cause and help with that first!
    Eddy
    16th Jul 2019
    2:56pm
    Genetics can work the other way. I am 75 and overweight, BMI 31, and constantly told by my GP that he is keeping a close watch on my weight, BP, blood sugar and cholesterol. So far so good, I do not require any medications to keep these factors under control. There is no issue of diabetes in my family (that I know of) so I can only surmise that my genetics is not inclined to diabetes. It may be that one rule for good health, and also wealth, is to pick the right parents.


    Tags: health, diabetes,

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