Do you know the signs of diabetes?

Are you one of the 200,000 West Australians who have diabetes and don’t know it? Clinical Nurse Consultant Annette Hart advises why it is important to know the signs of diabetes and why early diagnosis is essential.

Annette Hart 

It is essential to know the signs of diabetes, as delays in diagnosis can put people at risk of long-term complications.

 Along with this year’s theme for National Diabetes Week “It's About Time”, we are raising awareness about the importance of early diagnosis for all types of diabetes.

Unfortunately, too often life threatening symptoms are ignored and people are being diagnosed too late with diabetes. The sooner a person is diagnosed with diabetes the sooner they can be treated.

Diabetes signs and symptoms

Type 1 diabetes

 Remember the four "Ts" of type 1 diabetes:

  • Thirsty - being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst
  • Toilet - going to the toilet a lot, up through the night, potential bedwetting
  • Tired - feeling more tired than usual
  • Thinner - losing a lot of weight without trying.

Type 2 diabetes

A person may not have any signs or symptoms with type 2 diabetes. People are at higher risk if they are overweight, smoke, over 40 years old, suffer from a chronic condition or have polycystic ovarian syndrome, gestational diabetes, a family history of diabetes or are from a certain ethnic background (eg; Asian, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander).

Risk of delayed treatment

Type 1 diabetes is a life-threatening condition that needs early diagnosis and ongoing treatment. Leaving it too late can be fatal.

More than 600 people end up in an emergency department each year very sick to find out they have type 1 diabetes.

Remember, type 2 diabetes may not have any signs at all – it’s known as a silent disease.

Many people live with type 2 diabetes for many years before it’s diagnosed. During this time, high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves which may cause eye and kidney problems, a heart attack, stroke or even a limb amputation.

If you have any diabetes symptoms, please don’t ignore them and see your general practitioner.

Diabetes risk assessment

 If you think you may be at risk of having diabetes take an online diabetes risk assessment.  

Facts on diabetes

  • About 28 people every day in WA are diagnosed with diabetes.
  • About 124,000 people live with diabetes in WA.
  • For every one person diagnosed, there is a family member or carer ‘living’ with diabetes too, making about 248,000 people being touched by diabetes.
St John of God Health Care Annette Hart
Annette Hart Credentialed Diabetes Educator

About the Author

Annette is a credentialed diabetes educator and Clinical Nurse Consultant at St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals. She has completed a Master of Clinical Nursing and is a diabetes specialist midwife with more than 30 years’ experience as a nurse and midwife, 16 years spent specialising in diabetes.

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