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Diabetes

8 Sep 2010 6:30 AM -

World-wide, diabetes is becoming epidemic. Recently, in collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, the International Diabetes Institute produced new global predictions of the number of people with diabetes for various countries for the year 2025 (unpublished). It was estimated that in 2000 there were approximately 160 million people with diabetes in the world. This will climb to over 280 million people by the year 2025, the majority of them with Type 2 diabetes. For Australia there will be an estimated 1.23 million people with diabetes by the year 2010. The estimated number of Australians with diabetes in 2000 was 940,000 with a dramatic rise evident in the number of cases of diabetes over the last two decades.

Types of Diabetes

The three major types of diabetes are:

Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent diabetes)
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease where the body's immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This type of diabetes, also known as juvenile-onset diabetes, accounts for 10-15% of all people with the disease. It can appear at any age, although commonly under 40, and is triggered by environmental factors such as viruses, diet or chemicals in people genetically predisposed. People with type 1 diabetes must inject themselves with insulin several times a day and follow a careful diet and exercise plan.


Type 2 diabetes (previously known as non-insulin dependent diabetes)
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 85-90% of all people with the disease. This type of diabetes, also known as late-onset diabetes, is characterised by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. The disease is strongly genetic in origin but lifestyle factors such as excess weight, inactivity, high blood pressure and poor diet are major risk factors for its development. Symptoms may not show for many years and, by the time they appear, significant problems may have developed.

People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease. Type 2 diabetes may be treated by dietary changes, exercise and/or tablets. Insulin injections may later be required.


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)
GDM, or carbohydrate intolerance, is first diagnosed during pregnancy through an oral glucose tolerance test. Between 5.5 - 8.8% of pregnant women develop GDM in Australia. Risk factors for GDM include a family history of diabetes, increasing maternal age, obesity and being a member of a community or ethnic group with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While the carbohydrate intolerance usually returns to normal after the birth, the mother has a significant risk of developing permanent diabetes while the baby is more likely to develop obesity and impaired glucose tolerance and/or diabetes later in life. Self-care and dietary changes are essential in treatment.

How to Recognise Diabetes

Symptoms for Type 1 Diabetes may occur suddenly and include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination including bedwetting
  • Excessive hunger
  • Unexplained weakness and fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Vaginal discharge or itch in young girls
  • Nausea and vomiting

The symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes have a gradual onset. They can be easily missed or mistaken as part of the normal aging process. They include:

  • Blurred vision;
  • Tiredness;
  • Urinating more frequently;
  • Feeling thirsty all the time;
  • Numbness and tingling in the feet or legs;
  • Recurrent infections


If these symptoms occur, you should make an appointment with a doctor at Medicine on Second.