What is diabetes?
Diabetesmellitus (or simply diabetes) refers to a group
of serious lifelong conditions where there is too much glucose in
the blood. Currently an estimated 1.7 million Australians are
living with diabetes, which includes about 1.2 million people known
and registered with all types of diabetes as well as an estimated
500,000 people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes¹ Every day a
further 280 Australians² are diagnosed, including about 60
people with type 2³ and up to two people with type 1 diabetes
Glucose is your body's main source of energy. It comes from the
carbohydrate food and drink you consume. You need a steady supply
of glucose each day to fuel your body. Insulin, a hormone made by
your pancreas, assists the glucose to move from the bloodstream
into the cells of your body to be used for energy.
In diabetes, the pancreas cannot make enough insulin or the
insulin it does make does not work properly. As glucose needs
insulin to move easily into the cells, the lack of insulin results
in a build-up of glucose in the blood stream. This is known as
'hyperglycaemia' or high blood glucose. Over time, high glucose
levels can damage the body's blood vessels and nerves, leading to
long term consequences such as heart, kidney and eye disease, and
nerve damage in the feet.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type
2, and gestational diabetes. Before people develop type 2 diabetes
they often have what is known as a 'pre-diabetes' condition.
Pre-diabetes occurs when the blood glucose level is higher than
normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Diabetes is
diagnosed by a blood test arranged by your doctor.
Understanding the different kinds of diabetes can help you
understand the symptoms and treatment available. People can live
well with diabetes, although there is currently no cure.