Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to process blood glucose (blood sugar) effectively. An organ known as the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that works to convert blood glucose into energy for the body. In diabetes either insufficient insulin is produced or it does not work efficiently.
There are different types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, otherwise known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes occurs when the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system. Without a natural source of insulin, people with Type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented or reversed. About 10 – 15% of Australians with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects about 85% - 90% of people with diabetes. The pancreas produces inadequate insulin or the cells of the body don’t respond adequately to insulin. As a consequence blood glucose can rise to levels well above the healthy range. In the early stages Type 2 diabetes may be managed with diet and exercise. The condition does tend to progress over time and eventually tablets and later insulin injections may be required. more...
You are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you
Gestational diabetes occurs in 3% to 8% of pregnancies in Australia and usually goes away after the birth. It is important that this condition is managed to ensure the health of the baby and to decrease the risk of the mother developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Pre-diabetes is seen in people who have raised blood glucose levels which are not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at 10 to 20 times the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than the general population and this can be seen as an early warning indicator to make lifestyle changes before Type 2 diabetes develops.
Improving your diet and increasing physical activity can bring blood glucose levels into a healthy range and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Signs of diabetes can develop very gradually and may sometimes thought to be normal signs of aging. Occasionally people with diabetes initially have no symptoms at all. Common signs and symptoms of diabetes include:
There are a number of factors that increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Try the quick diabetes risk assessment tool from Diabetes Australia to assess your risk of developing diabetes in the next 5 years. Risk factors include:
Prior to the diagnosis of diabetes a number of vague symptoms such as fatigue, increased thirst and urination, weight loss or blurry vision may be experienced. Untreated, the high levels of glucose in the blood can lead to serious complications including heart disease, stroke, vison loss, kidney failure and limb amputation. If you have any concerns or suspect a medical problem, please speak to your health care provider immediately. more...
HbA1c has long been used by people with known cases of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and their health care teams to help monitor this condition. More recently HbA1c levels have been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Australian Diabetes Society Expert Committee to be used find out whether a person may have diabetes, i.e. in the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, for instance:
Usually the HbA1c test is not used in the diagnosis of Type 1 (insulin-dependent or juvenile) diabetes and is not recommended for the diagnosis of gestational (pregnancy) diabetes.Close
The HbA1c (or glycated haemoglobin) test is also used for monitoring blood glucose levels for the management of diabetes. The test measures your blood glucose levels over the previous 2 – 3 months. more...
This is a different test to the blood glucose test that people with diabetes do frequently (often several times a day, usually with a finger prick and small device called a ‘glucometer’). To use a cricketing analogy, we look at a cricketer’s batting average over the summer to see how they perform overall since looking at the number of runs in a single day does not give you a good indication of that athlete’s overall skill and performance. In the same way, a blood glucose test gives a snapshot of a level at a particular time and the HbA1c gives an indication of what has been happening over a longer period.
Some of the glucose in the blood binds to the haemoglobin inside your red blood cells. Therefore, conditions that affect your red blood cells or haemoglobin can affect your HbA1c results. Such conditions include for example anaemia, iron deficiency, vitamin deficiencies or kidney disease amongst others. If there is any possibility that you may have a condition affecting your red blood cells or haemoglobin you should consult with your doctor before taking an HbA1c test.
It is important to note that blood test results obtained from different laboratories can and do vary. MyHealthTest results for HbA1c may be slightly higher than other laboratories. This should be considered if comparing results to those from other labs. For more information watch this video.Close
HbA1c tests should not be used for diagnosis of diabetes in the following cases:
More information on diabetes can be obtained from the following groups