Close up of person receiving a diabetes blood prick test

Diabetes has been described as a silent pandemic, with 280 Australians developing the disease every day. That’s one person every five minutes.

It's also not one condition – there are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Regardless of which type of diabetes you or someone you know may have, it requires daily care and management.

According to Diabetes Australia, about 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. – including all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.2 million known and registered) as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000 estimated).

If you add in those with pre-diabetes, the total number of Australians with diabetes and pre-diabetes is estimated at 3.2 million.

In addition to the people suffering from the diseases, there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day.

The good news is that up to 58 per cent of cases of type 2 can be prevented and we know that good blood glucose control and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve the complications associated with diabetes.

The importance of blood glucose control is critical in diabetes. When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood.

For our bodies to work properly we need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy.

The hormone insulin is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy. In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body, or the body can no longer respond to insulin effectively..

When people with diabetes eat glucose, which is in foods such as breads, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yoghurt and sweets, it can’t be converted into energy.

Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels.

Weight management is also an essential part of diabetes management. And put simply, the cause of being overweight or obese is too much energy in, and too little energy out.

That is too much food, too little exercise.

In fact, the underlying cause of obesity is much more complex, but the resulting problems of obesity are well known: not only type 2 diabetes, but also cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, social exclusion and low self-esteem.

Talk to your pharmacist for advice on weight loss and pharmacy programs available to help you lose weight.

You can also ask your pharmacist if you are eligible for a Diabetes MedsCheck: an in-pharmacy medicines review. During a Diabetes MedsCheck, your pharmacist will have an individual consultation with you and discuss how to get the best out of your medicines, use of your blood sugar monitor and equip you to effectively manage your diabetes.

Your pharmacy may offer a range of additional diabetes services including access to educational speakers, diabetes educators and dieticians, or even walking groups.

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