Are you at Risk?

Risk factors for developing diabetes include the following:

  • Being aged 35 or over
  • Being overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle.
  • Being a member of a high-risk group (in South Africa if you are of Indian descent you are at particular risk).
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed over 4kg at birth, or have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • Having high blood pressure or heart disease

Early diagnosis of diabetes is extremely important if complications are to be prevented or delayed. If you are over 35 and have any of the risk factors highlighted in the “Who is at Risk” section, you should be tested every year.

A simple finger-prick test at your local pharmacy or clinic can diagnose the strong likelihood that you may have diabetes within a minute.

How is diabetes treated?

Having diabetes need not mean the end of a normal, healthy life. People with diabetes need to first accept the fact that they have the condition and then learn how to manage it.

This takes commitment and perseverance. The goal of diabetes management is to bring blood glucose levels into the normal range, that is, between 4-6mmol/l. There are various aspects to good diabetes management.

Education 

Knowing about diabetes is an essential first step. All people with diabetes need to learn about their condition in order to make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their diabetes well. Join your local branch of Diabetes SA and attend courses in diabetes self-management. Make an appointment to see a Nurse Educator who will set you on the path to good diabetes management.

Healthy Eating

There is no such thing as a ‘diabetic diet’, only a healthy way of eating, which is recommended for everyone. However, what, when and how much you eat play an important role in regulating how well your body manages blood glucose levels. It’s a good idea to visit a registered dietician who will help you work out a meal plan, which is suitable to your particular lifestyle and needs.

Exercise – Regular exercise helps your body lower blood glucose, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and enhances overall fitness and enjoyment of life.

Weight Management – Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important in the control of type 2 diabetes. Make an appointment to see a registered dietician who will work out a meal plan to help you loose weight.

Medication – People with type 1 diabetes require daily injections of insulin to survive. There are various types of insulin available in South Africa. 

Type 2 diabetes is controlled through exercise and meal planning and may require diabetes tablets and\or insulin to assist the body in making or using insulin more effectively.

Lifestyle Management – Learning to reduce stress levels in daily living can help people manage their blood glucose levels. Smoking is particularly dangerous for people with diabetes.