Did you know that diabetes is the fastest-growing chronic condition in Australia? Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar that is the main energy source for the body but unhealthy levels can lead to both short and long term complications if not managed correctly.
Glucose, most commonly referred to by diabetics as ‘blood sugar’, is the main source of energy for all the cells and organs in our bodies. It is obtained from the foods we eat such as breads, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables. These foods are broken down by the digestive system into glucose allowing it to circulate in the bloodstream and be converted into energy to be used by your body.
Insulin is a hormone produced by specific cells in the pancreas that is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy. When not enough insulin is available, instead of glucose being turned into energy, it stays in the blood stream resulting in high blood glucose levels. In people with diabetes not enough insulin is produced to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. The complications associated with poorly controlled blood sugar levels include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, vision deterioration and depression.
There are 3 main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational (develops during pregnancy). Type 1 diabetes is when no insulin is produced by the pancreas. It accounts for around 10% of diabetes and is generally diagnosed in childhood, but can occur at any age. The most common, Type 2 diabetes, is a progressive condition where the body becomes resistant to normal insulin effects and/or the pancreas slowly loses its ability to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes develops over a long period of time and is generally diagnosed in adults over the age of 45.
Diabetes is diagnosed using a number of glucose level tests including ‘Fasting blood glucose level test’, ‘HbA1C glucose test’ and ‘Glucose tolerance test’. These tests are all done by pathology upon your doctor’s recommendation. Once diagnosed one of the main aims of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugars within a specified range, as blood sugar levels that are too high and too low can both lead to significant complications. Normal blood glucose levels are between 4.0-7.8mmol/L but in diabetics target levels and frequency of testing varies depending on the type of diabetes and the time of day you are testing.
Self-blood glucose monitoring allows you to conveniently check your levels on a regular basis enabling you and your doctor to assess the effectiveness of your treatment whether that be lifestyle changes or medication. All products for self-testing including monitors, strips and lancing devices are all conveniently available from your local UFS Pharmacy.
Effective management of diabetes is all about aiming for a careful balance between the foods you eat, how active you are and the medication you take for your diabetes.
Even after medication has been commenced it is still essential to continue regular exercise, healthy diet and ongoing blood glucose monitoring at home to ensure that you live a long, healthy and active life. It’s also important to remember that your doctor, local pharmacist and diabetes educator are all here to help you in managing your diabetes. You are not alone!