It’s National Diabetes Week (9-15 July) and rural doctors are encouraging everyone to take part in the conversation. Dr Raymond ‘RT’ Lewandowski, President Elect of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, explains diabetes affects over 2 million Australians every year.
‘Diabetes is a serious and chronic condition which can affect the entire body,’ he said. ‘It can be managed well but the potential complications are life-threatening if left untreated.
‘Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults, a leading cause of kidney failure and dialysis, increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times, is a major cause of limb amputations and affects mental health as well as physical health,’ said Dr Lewandowski.
‘Early diagnosis and optimal self-management and treatment are the best way of reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications, so it is important to visit your rural doctor if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to diabetes.’
Three types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system is activated to prevent the pancreas from producing insulin.
Currently there’s no cure, it is lifelong, and is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors.
Type 2 diabetes is when the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas.
It’s often associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors and people may be able to significantly slow or even stop the progression of the condition through changes to diet and increasing their amount of physical activity.
It usually develops in adults over the age of 45 years but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups including children, adolescents, and young adults.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (sometimes referred to as GDM_ occurs during pregnancy. This is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting between five and 10 per cent of pregnant women.
‘The government recently announced a parliamentary inquiry into diabetes,’ said Dr Lewandowski.
‘To get the conversation started, Diabetes Australia are kicking off Australia’s biggest conversation about the impact of diabetes in this country with a series of debates.
‘RDAA is currently preparing its submission to the Inquiry, which is particularly relevant to rural patients, as it is much more difficult for diabetics to access specialist care in rural and remote areas, and rural general practices provide much additional care for these patients to fill that gap.’
Dr Lewandowski said the RDAA was encouraging all Australians affected by diabetes to participate in the conversation, to provide feedback which will inform Diabetes Australia’s response to the parliamentary inquiry.
Co-hosted by Diabetes Australia’s Group CEO Justine Cain and Dr Norman Swan AM, the Great Debates are a mix of live in-person (plus livestreamed) and virtual events:
- Monday 10 July: Timely and affordable access: Who cares?
- Tuesday 11 July: Brain drain: Is diabetes research in Australia in crisis?
- Wednesday 12 July: Australia’s obesity crisis: Is there a magic pill?
- Thursday 13 July: Type 2 diabetes remission: Hype, hope or happening?
- Friday 14 July: Keeping pace with treatments and tech: Is Australia falling behind?