July 6, 2011

AUSTRALIA: Diabetes can be a silent killer

MARYBOROUGH, Queensland / Frazer Coast Chronicle  / Health / Life & Style / July 6, 2011

Miranda Cashin

IN AUSTRALIA, it is estimated that 1.7 million people are diabetic but half don’t know it yet. Diabetes Australia says 275 Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every day. It is Australia’s fastest-growing chronic illness and it is estimated that by 2015, the number of diabetics will reach 4.6 million.

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2, with Type 2 accounting for 90% of cases.

The condition occurs where blood glucose levels become too high because the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t use insulin properly.

Type 1 diabetes results from a complete lack of insulin caused by the body destroying its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

It’s an autoimmune condition, not caused by lifestyle factors.

Suffers have daily injections of insulin to function.

Jock Fraser is careful of what he eats to manage his diabetes. Barry Leddicoat

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type and is dramatically on the increase.

It is a result of low levels of insulin or when the body cannot sufficiently use it.

Being overweight or obese increases risk of developing this type of diabetes.

The lack of obvious symptoms can mean the disease goes undetected for a long time.

But while no overt symptoms are present, the disease can be picked up through a blood test.

And the good news is that because Type 2 diabetes is linked to lifestyle factors, it is entirely preventable and treatable through lifestyle changes such as keeping a healthy weight, a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Sunshine Coast resident Jock Fraser was lucky to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 22 years ago.

He was unaware anything was wrong until it was picked up in a free public screening in New Zealand.

A diagnosis of chronic illness can be stressful but Jock said it had spurred him to make a few changes he should have made anyway.

“I made a few lifestyle changes, watched my diet and increased my exercise. Just basic things we all should do anyway,” he said.

Now, 22 years on, Jock keeps his diabetes in check through a combination of lifestyle choices and medication.

He eats a diet low in sugar, salt and fat, as well as going for a 30-minute walk daily.

He also attends a local diabetes support group on the fourth Friday of the month in Caloundra.

The group educates sufferers and provides a friendly environment where diabetics can connect with others, swap tips and tricks, and receive emotional support.

Next week is Diabetes Awareness Week.

Blue Care Caloundra Allied health assistant Shelly McBride said it was surprising how little people knew about diabetes.

To learn more, take the test on the Diabetes Australia (Queensland) website at www.diabetesqueensland or speak to your local doctor.

• Diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels become too high because the body doesn’t produce enough insulin
• It is Australia’s fastest- growing chronic disease
• It is estimated that 1.7 million people in Australia have diabetes, with about half of those not aware they have the condition.
• It is estimated that by 2015, the number of people with diabetes will reach 4.6 million
• More than 8000 people on the Sunshine Coast are registered diabetes sufferers
• It is entirely treatable

For support or information visit: Caloundra Blue Care Diabetes Support Group 5438 5000; Diabetes Australia Queensland 1300 136 588 or ww.diabetesqueensland.org.au; Australian Diabetes Council at http://www.australiandiabetescouncil.com/

© The Maryborough Hervey Bay Newspaper Company Pty Ltd 2011

Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights.
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.