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Cheat Sheet

Diabetes For Dummies (Australian Edition)

Having diabetes can lead to short-term and long-term complications. However, the likelihood of developing complications can be reduced if you take a number of steps. Understanding what you should be monitoring and when can reduce the impact diabetes has on your health. Making changes to your lifestyle, both physical and mental, can make living with diabetes more positive. If you need further information, know which websites are reputable and provide the best advice.

Australian Guidelines for Testing for Diabetes

These guidelines were developed buy the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Diabetes Australia (including the Australian Diabetes Society) to screen for diabetes at the earliest possible appropriate time.

People over 45 should be tested every three years if normal. People with symptoms of thirst, frequent urination and weight loss are tested immediately.

People should be tested at a younger age and more often if:

  • They are obese (BMI of 30 or more).

  • Their parents or siblings have diabetes.

  • They are from a high-risk group, such as Aboriginal Australians, Torres Strait or Pacific Islanders, Asian Indians or Chinese.

  • They have delivered a baby over 4 kilograms or had gestational disease.

  • They have low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides.

  • They have high blood pressure or heart disease.

  • They are women with polycyctic ovarian syndrome and are obese.

  • They are on antipsychotic drugs.

Checklist for Diabetes Self-Management

Managing diabetes requires good self-discipline and regular visits to your doctor or diabetes care team. Following is a checklist for your diabetes care — what you or your doctor should be checking on a daily, every three–four monthly or annual basis.

Picking up complications early is key to managing your diabetes. The earlier you or your doctor realise a health problem exists, the earlier that problem can be addressed and managed. Some of the investigations included in the following list are required more frequently if being actively treated.

Daily:

  • Blood glucose self-monitoring, at the following frequencies:

    • Before meals and bedtime for person with type 1 diabetes

    • Before breakfast and at least one to two additional times through the day, preferably two hours after meals for person with type 2 diabetes on tablets.

    • Once daily for person with stable type 2 diabetes

    • Before and one hour after meals for pregnant woman with type 1 diabetes or gestational diabetes

  • Maintenance of healthy eating and exercise plan

  • Medication (if required)

Three–four monthly:

  • Blood pressure

  • Blood test for HbA1c

  • Foot exam if neuropathy is present

  • Weight

Annually:

  • Dental review

  • Diet review

  • Dilated eye exam by eye doctor

  • Education review

  • Fasting lipid profile

  • Filament test for foot sensation

  • Medication review

  • Microalbuminuria measurement

Lifestyle Changes That Improve Diabetes Management

You can make a number of changes to your physical and mental health to stay healthy and avoid the long-term complications of diabetes. Here’s a list of the changes you should aim for to help you manage your diabetes:

  • Eat as well as you can.

  • Keep as active as you can.

  • Keep informed and updated.

  • Take your medication regularly.

  • Quit smoking.

  • Reduce alcohol intake.

  • Reduce stress.

  • Adopt health coping strategies.

  • Seek medical advice if you're concerned about your health.

Best Diabetes Websites for Australians

Sometimes the free advice you find on the Internet is worth no more than what you pay for it. However, finding reputable, valuable Australian diabetes resources online is possible. Here’s a list of trusted Australian websites that provide good information and advice.

  • Diabetes Australia: This national site gives an overview of the services that Diabetes Australia offers and the research it supports, as well as facts about diabetes, answers to frequently asked questions and an extensive list of available products.

  • The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute: This huge site presents extensive information for both the general public and health professionals.

  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: This site contains individual state and territory event calendars (showing upcoming diabetes camps, support groups and seminars), and news and links specifically focusing on children’s needs.

  • Calorie King: This commercial site provides information on the nutritional value of food and recipes.

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