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

Good Health (Australia) - - Contents -

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

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