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Diabetes: Risks and Symptoms To Look Out For

Diabetes continues to be a major health concern in Australia. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an estimated 1.3 million Australians suffer from this common medical condition. And the number may be even higher because the estimate only includes those who self reported and excludes those with gestational diabetes.

Before looking into some risk factors and symptoms to watch for, it may help to understand what diabetes is and who gets it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition affecting the body’s ability to produce energy from blood sugar. There are three types of diabetes: Types 1 & 2 and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes impacts the way that the body produces insulin. People typically find out that they have this form of diabetes during childhood, but sometimes adults receive this diagnosis. Insulin is a hormone that is essential in assisting the body in utilizing blood sugar. If there is insufficient insulin, an accumulation of blood sugar can harm the body.

Type 2 Diabetes

Those with Type 2 diabetes differ from those with Type 1 in that their bodies can make insulin, but they may not be able to produce it in sufficient quantities to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Or their bodies cannot efficiently utilize insulin. This type of diabetes is normally associated with lifestyle factors like obesity.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a medical condition that leads to women having extremely high blood sugar levels while they are pregnant. This is normally a temporary condition.

Although a given individual may have certain risk factors for diabetes, this does not mean that they will automatically go on to develop the condition.

What are some genetic risk factors for developing diabetes?

Is not currently known exactly what causes Type 1 diabetes. But having a family history of the condition is a known risk factor.

·  The children of men with Type 1 diabetes have a 1 in 17 chance of developing the condition themselves.

·  If a woman has Type 1 diabetes, and she is under the age of 25 when the child is born, the child has a 1 in 25 chance of getting diabetes.

·  If the woman is 25 or older, her child has a one percent chance of developing Type 1 diabetes.

·  In the case of both parents with Type 1 diabetes, their children have a 10-25 percent chance of developing Type 1 diabetes.

The odds of developing diabetes also increase if the parent has Type 2 diabetes. Since diabetes is known to be impacted by certain lifestyle choices, children may form poor health habits due to their upbringing. Since they have an additional genetic predisposition to the condition, they are at particularly greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Can the environment cause diabetes?

It is believed that those living in a cold climate are at an increased risk of having Type 1 diabetes. The condition is also more frequently diagnosed during the winter months.

A number of studies indicate that exposure to air pollution may increase one’s risk of developing diabetes.

Lifestyle Factors

It is not known if any risk factors related to lifestyle choices is linked to Type 1 diabetes.

There are a number of known risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. Your risk of developing diabetes may rise if the following lifestyle factors apply to you:

·  Obesity

·  Smoking tobacco

·  Physical inactivity

·  Poor nutrition and diet

Of the above risk factors, obesity is considered to be the one that places individuals at the highest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Medical Conditions and Risk Factors

If you have any of the following conditions, you’re more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes:

·  Hypertension, or high blood pressure

·  High cholesterol

·  Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

·  High triglyceride levels

·  Prediabetic blood sugar levels

Does diabetes affect older Australians more often than younger ones?

Yes. You are more prone to develop diabetes as you grow older. Among those age 65 and older, approximately 25% have diabetes.

The Warning Signs of Diabetes

Diabetes develops in different ways among different people. Your symptoms may develop gradually, or they may arise very rapidly. The different types of diabetes have varying warning signs. Some symptoms of diabetes include:

·  Severe thirst

·  Dry mouth

·  Hunger

·  Frequent urination

·  Blurred vision

·  Fatigue and irritable behavior

·  Wounds that are slow to heal

·  Itchy or dry skin

·  Yeast infections

Warning Signs Specific to Type 1 Diabetes

Children and younger adults are more frequently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, but the condition affects all age groups. Children may exhibit the following additional symptoms:

·  Sudden, unexplained weight loss

·  Wetting the bed when this is an infrequent occurrence for the child

·  Yeast infections among prepubescent girls

·  Flu-like symptoms, including difficulty breathing, vomiting, nausea, and loss of consciousness

For diabetics, flu-like symptoms are due to the accumulation of ketones within the bloodstream among undiagnosed diabetics. This is a medical emergency called diabetic ketoacidosis, requiring urgent medical treatment.

Warning Signs Specific to Type 2 Diabetes

People do not always notice sudden symptoms, but you may receive a diagnosis of diabetes if you are visiting the doctor for:

·  Slow-healing wounds or persistent infections

·  Symptoms of high blood sugar levels like tingling in the feet or numbness

·  Heart problems

Some people never develop any clear warning signs at all. They may develop diabetes over the course of quite a few years. Any warning signs that occur may not be obvious.

The Bottom Line

If you believe that you have diabetes, talk to your doctor. Get out in front of your condition so that you can manage it more effectively. This will make it easier to control your symptoms and prevent more serious health problems from developing.

If you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, your glucose levels will need to be carefully managed by correlating your insulin with your activity levels and your diet. If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, diet and activity alone may be enough to manage your blood sugar levels, although medications are available.

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