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What are Diabetes Risk Factors?

Discover the major diabetes risk factors, common signs, and symptoms specific to each type of diabetes.
blood glucose test with apple and light weights
In this article, you’ll learn more about the diabetes risk factors, common signs, and symptoms specific to each type of diabetes

Diabetes

  • Diabetes is a serious complex condition that can affect the entire body
  • Diabetes requires daily self-care and if complications develop, diabetes can have a significant impact on the quality of life and can reduce life expectancy
  • While there is currently no cure for diabetes, people can live an enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it
  • There are three main types of diabetes that we will look at over the next few screens.
Access the Diabetes Australia website for information, tools, and resources.

Diabetes and a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet used in the treatment of diabetes is similar to the diet recommended for all Australians. To help manage diabetes, Diabetes Australia recommends:
  • Eat regular meals and healthy snacks spread over the day
  • Base meals on high fibre carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, beans, lentils, vegetables, and fruits
  • Watch the amount of fat eaten and limit the amount of saturated fat by choosing lean meats and low-fat dairy foods
  • Try to avoid fried takeaway foods, pastries, and biscuits
  • Keep weight within the healthy weight range by matching the amount of food eaten with the amount you burn up each day.

 Diabetes – Type I Diabetes

  • Previously known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM)
  • An autoimmune disease
  • Develops as a result of the immune system destroying the β cells in the pancreas
  • Insulin fails to be produced
  • The signs and symptoms of this the disease develops quickly and it is therefore usually diagnosed readily
  • These patients need to take parenteral insulin to control their BSL to prevent chronic hyperglycaemia and associated complications.
Diabetes Australia: Type 1 Diabetes

 Diabetes – Type II Diabetes

  • Previously known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)
  • The β cells of those with Type II diabetes still produce insulin, but not in sufficient quantities
  • Also, insulin receptor sites decrease in numbers, leading to insulin resistance
  • Patients may make lifestyle changes that control the disease
  • Many patients require oral medications and occasionally some require Insulin administration.
Diabetes Australia: Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes – Gestational Diabetes

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus (sometimes referred to as GDM) is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born
  • It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes risk factors

Women at Increased Risk of Developing Gestational Diabetes Include Those Who:

  • Are aged 40 years or over
  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes or a first-degree relative (mother or sister) who has had gestational diabetes
  • Are above the healthy weight range
  • Have had elevated blood glucose levels in the past
  • Are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
  • Are from a Melanesian, Polynesian, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern or Indian background
  • Have had gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies
  • Have previously had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Have previously given birth to a large baby (weighing more than 4.5kg)
  • Are taking some types of anti-psychotic or steroid medications
  • Have gained weight too rapidly in the first half of pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes may also occur in women with no known risk factors.
Diabetes Australia: Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes and Exercise

Exercise and High Blood Glucose Levels (BGL)

Exercise in these circumstances can actually elevate blood glucose and increase ketone production.

Ketoacidosis

  • Ketoacidosis is life-threatening
  • It happens normally in Type I diabetics
  • The body cannot utilize sugar due to a lack of or inadequate insulin.
  • Fat is used as fuel instead
  • As fat breaks down acids called ketones build up in blood and urine – ketones are poisonous
  • In extreme circumstances, this can also occur in Type 2.

Complications Include

  • Cerebral edema
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Kidney failure.
Signs – decreased or loss of consciousness, fruity breath, nausea, trouble breathing, vomiting – seek immediate medical aid urgently.
Source: Diabetes Australia, 2019.
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