STATISTICS estimate there are 500,000 Australians who are unaware they have type 2 diabetes.
Wimmera Health Care Group wants to ensure the region’s residents are not among this group, and know the risks and symptoms to look for.
During Diabetes Week this week, the health service is urging people to learn about the seriousness and prevalence of the condition, and also take time to acknowledge those in the area who are living with diabetes.
Wimmera Health Care Group diabetes educator Sophie Ingoldsby said diabetes rates were on the rise, with 100,000 Australians developing the chronic condition last year alone.
Statistics show more than 1 in 20 Australians are living with diabetes.
Ms Ingoldsby said type 1 diabetes was predominantly diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood, and occurred when the body started attacking its own insulin-producing cells.
Type 2 is largely a lifestyle disease related to obesity, which gradually worsens over time.
Ms Ingoldsby said initial symptoms of diabetes could include extreme thirst, frequent urination and fatigue.
She said these symptoms might increase slowly for people with type 2 diabetes. She said people might not realise they had the disease until they developed complications such as a non-healing wound, or experienced a heart attack, kidney problems or blindness.
“If you are over 40 or have any worrying symptoms, make time to see your doctor because health outcomes are improved when signs and symptoms are followed up earlier,” she said.
“You can also go to www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/risk-calculator to check your risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Ms Ingoldsby said many young people in the Wimmera were living with type 1 diabetes.
“This requires insulin injections every day and frequent finger pricks to check blood glucose levels,” she said.
“There is good news, with diabetes research progressing at a rapid rate over the past few years.
Blood glucose can now be monitored with sensors, giving a continuous readout of glucose levels. This has lessened the need for stinging fingers and increased peace of mind for many.”
Diabetes Week runs until Saturday.