In people with diabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal because the body does not produce enough insulin and often cannot use insulin properly.
Insulin is a hormone needed for glucose to enter the cells and be converted to energy.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. Usually the onset is abrupt and symptoms are obvious. Type 1 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in children and young adults but can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is the form of diabetes that is related to ageing, family history and lifestyle factors (overweight and inactivity). It occurs when the insulin is not working effectively (insulin resistance) or the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin (or a combination of both). Most people with diabetes have type 2. It usually develops in adults over the age of 45 years but it is increasingly occurring at a younger age.
Type 2 diabetes is treated with healthy eating, exercise and weight control. Tablets and insulin may also be required.
Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG) are both conditions where blood glucose levels are higher then normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The term 'pre-diabetes' is also sometimes used to describe these conditions.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness and fatigue.
Symptoms of type 2 are similar to those for type 1 diabetes. However, some people with type 2 diabetes do not have any symptoms at all. For others the first indication may be a complication of diabetes such as a heart attack, vision problems, or a foot ulcer.
Diabetes is serious. Diabetes can cause serious complications. For example:
People with one or more of the following risk factors are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes:
Maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and following a healthy eating plan can reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
There is no cure for diabetes. Diabetes can be successfully managed.
People with diabetes need to work with a team of health care professionals, which includes their doctor, diabetes educator and dietitian. They should also work closely with their doctor for regular checks of eyes, kidneys, feet, blood pressure, blood lipids, body weight and blood glucose levels.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help reduce the risk of developing the complications of diabetes. This means being physically active most days, maintaining a healthy weight, adopting healthy eating with fruit, vegetables and low fat foods and not smoking.
People with type 1 diabetes need insulin for the rest of their lives.
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their condition with regular physical activity, healthy eating and loss of excess weight. Others may need tablets and/or insulin injections as well.
Diabetes can only be diagnosed with a blood glucose test ordered by a GP or specialist and performed at a laboratory.
You can assess your risk for type 2 diabetes by taking the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment test. The tool assesses a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next five years, based on a score for risk factors. Those with a score of 15 or more are encouraged to see their GP and to consider participating in a Lifestyle modification program, such as the Life! Program.
Take the test
Diabetes Victoria Helpline 1300 136 588
To obtain information on a lifestyle course to prevent type 2 diabetes ring 13 RISK (13 7475).