Your need-to-know guide to diabetes
A DIABETES DIAGNOSIS COMES AS A BLOW, BUT THERE ARE POSITIVE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO MANAGE IT. WE EXPLAIN HOW TO GET TESTED, AND HOW TO GET DIABETES UNDER CONTROL
Diabetes is one of the most pressing health issues of our time, with one Australian being diagnosed every five minutes. Type 2 diabetes in particular represents 85-90 per cent of diagnosed cases. It’s not known exactly what causes it, but there are lifestyle changes we can make that can have a significant impact.
The first and most important step is to find out if you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes and this, at least, is a relatively straightforward process. The Hba1c screening service is an on-the-spot test that takes 10-15 minutes and you can walk into an Amcal pharmacy and get it done without an appointment.
What is it?
Hba1c refers to glycated haemoglobin. It develops when haemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body, joins with glucose in the blood, becoming ‘glycated’. By measuring glycated haemoglobin (Hba1c), clinicians are able to get an overall picture of what our average blood sugar levels have been over a period of weeks or months. There is no fasting required beforehand and it also has the advantage of being less affected by dayto-day variation in plasma glucose due to exercise, smoking, medicines and diet patterns. Instead it reflects the average level of glycaemia over six to eight weeks.
What comes next?
Of course testing is just the first step. The next stage is managing the illness and there are lots of positive steps you can take to improve the situation. If your tests do return positive for type 2 diabetes, it’s time to look at:
» Whether you’re in a healthy weight range. This can be assessed by checking your BMI and measuring your waist circumference, then working with a health professional on a healthy eating plan if necessary.
» Getting any medications you’re taking reviewed and ensuring they’re at the right dosage and being taken at the right times.
» Looking at your fitness levels and getting advice on how to incorporate regular exercise into your week.
» Regularly monitoring your blood pressure.
The good news is you don’t need to do this alone, but reaching out for the help you need is vital. Sadly, a recent survey of 505 Australians living with diabetes revealed 39 per cent feel their friends, family or colleagues don’t really understand their condition and more than half believe the emotional effects of living with diabetes are just as challenging as the physical. It’s clear more awareness and greater levels of support in the community are needed to tackle this growing problem.
For more on managing diabetes, see www.diabetesaustralia.com.au