Managing Diabetes: Tips for a Fulfilling Life

image: diabetic man measuring glucose sitting on the sofa at home.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management and lifestyle changes to ensure that individuals with diabetes can live healthy and fulfilling lives. Having strategies in place to manage stress and emotional wellbeing is essential.

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterised by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood and is experienced by almost 2 million Australians. Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or when the body becomes resistant to insulin (Type 2 diabetes). Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.

According to Diabetes Australia diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood. The body can’t make insulin, enough insulin or is not effectively using the insulin it does makes. Over time high glucose levels can damage blood vessels and nerves, resulting in long-term health complications including heart, kidney, eye and foot damage.

Types of Diabetes

The two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2, have symptoms and causes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. This type of diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood. It requires daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes where the body becomes resistant to insulin. This type of diabetes can be caused by a range of factors, including obesity, diet, and lack of physical activity. The risk for Type 2 diabetes increases with age, and people over the age of 40 are at higher risk than those below that age.

Diabetes, of either type, is a serious condition that can lead to a range of health problems.

As well as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, pregnant people can experience gestational diabetes. According to Diabetes Australia, gestational diabetes is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy.

Most people with gestational diabetes will no longer have diabetes after the baby is born. However, some people will continue to have high blood glucose levels after delivery. Gestational diabetes is the fastest-growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting thousands of pregnant people. Between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of pregnant people will develop gestational diabetes. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of diabetes can include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, blurred vision, and slow healing of cuts and bruises. In some cases, individuals with diabetes may experience no symptoms at all, which is why it is important to get regular health and medical check-ups.

Monitoring blood sugar levels

Monitoring blood sugar levels is a key part of managing diabetes. This can be done through regular blood tests at home with a glucose meter (glucometer), a pharmacy, or other healthcare provider. Test results help people with diabetes to adjust their insulin doses and make lifestyle changes to manage their condition.

Healthy diet

A healthy diet is important, and maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, including a range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help prevent Type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes need to limit their intake of high-fat, high-sugar foods and drinks. A balanced diet is essential for managing blood sugar levels and preventing the development of complications.

Physical activity

People with diabetes also need to take part in regular physical activity. Exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity and control blood sugar levels. Exercise can also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other related health problems.

It is recommended that people with diabetes engage in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week.

Stress management

Stress and emotional wellbeing can impact diabetes management. It’s important for people with diabetes to develop strategies to manage stress. Strategies may include practising relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, talking to a mental health professional, or joining a support group. Regular exercise also helps to manage stress.

There are also many resources available for individuals with diabetes. Support groups, education programs, and access to medical treatment can help individuals with diabetes manage their condition and live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Resources about diabetes

There is a range of resources available for people with diabetes, including support groups, education, and access to medical treatment. Diabetes Australia provides information and support for people with diabetes. In addition, the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) is designed to help people self-manage diabetes. The scheme is free to join and open to all Australians diagnosed with diabetes. Support available includes access to:

Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management and lifestyle changes to ensure that individuals with diabetes can live healthy and fulfilling lives. Having strategies in place to manage stress and emotional wellbeing is essential. With the right resources and support, individuals with diabetes can successfully manage their condition and lead fulfilling lives.

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