Are you at risk of diabetes?

Are you more thirsty than usual? Passing more urine? Always feeling hungry? These are some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, a condition that is commonly diagnosed at a later age – when complications of the conditions may already be present.

On World Diabetes Day, the focus is on encouraging the millions of people around the world with type 2 diabetes to take note of the warning signs, see their health professional and heed his or her advice.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. The bad news is that we do not know what causes type 2 diabetes; the better news is that we know it is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. It also has strong genetic and family related risk factors.

Type 2 diabetes can be managed with a combination of regular physical activity, healthy eating and weight reduction. But it may also require oral medications and insulin injections.

About 275,000 Australians with type 2 diabetes are using insulin, but experts believe there are many who aren’t and should be. Researchers say that around one in four Australians with type 2 diabetes are reluctant to start using insulin, even when it has been recommended by their doctor. They attribute this to a range of psychological factors, including a fear the patient has mismanaged the condition and doesn’t want to see their doctor as a result.

Dr Elizabeth Holmes-Truscott, research fellow at the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research of Diabetes (ACBRD), says that there are common psychological barriers dissuading people with type 2 diabetes from using insulin.

“Around 70 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes believe taking insulin means their diabetes has become much worse, and around 50 per cent say that commencing insulin means they’ve failed to manage their diabetes,” she said.

“These are powerful negative ideas that have a major impact on a person’s willingness to use an effective treatment that can benefit their long-term health.

“The reality is people with type 2 diabetes who use insulin to manage their diabetes aren’t good or bad, they are just managing their diabetes in a way their health team believes will be beneficial.”

If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness, amputations and depression.

Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes could also be linked, according to an article on Forbes.com. It reported that scientists believe untangling the connection could lead to earlier Alzheimer’s diagnosis and better treatments for both diseases.

The ACBRD has developed a booklet, in association with Diabetes Australia, called Starting Insulin, which aims to help people understand how insulin can help them manage type 2 diabetes.

The booklet covers a range of topics, including the benefits and side effects of insulin, frequently asked questions and advice on where to find further information and support. It can be accessed online here.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • being excessively thirsty
  • passing more urine
  • feeling tired and lethargic
  • always feeling hungry
  • having cuts that heal slowly
  • itching, skin infections
  • blurred vision
  • gradually putting on weight
  • mood swings
  • headaches
  • feeling dizzy
  • leg cramps.

 

If you’re concerned, you can check your risk here.

Are you at risk of diabetes? Is it a condition you should be aware of because of genetic factors?

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

Written by Janelle Ward

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