Living with Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 85 to 90 per cent of all people living with the condition.

Diabetes happens when there is too much glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream.

Glucose is an important source of energy for the body and comes from carbohydrate foods that most of us eat every day. These foods include bread, pasta, rice, cereal, fruits, starchy vegetables, milk and yoghurt.

When our bodies break down these carbohydrates into glucose, it then enters our bloodstream. When the glucose enters our bloodstream, it requires insulin to enter the body cells and be used for energy.

Insulin is made in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas can’t make enough insulin and the body cells can’t respond properly to the insulin, leading to high blood glucose levels.

Symptoms usually include:

  • Being thirsty and drinking more than usual
  • Feeling tired and low on energy
  • Going to the toilet more frequently
  • Sores and cuts that won’t heal
  • Blurred vision
  • Itching and skin infections
  • Pain or tingling in the legs.

Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in adults, but younger people are developing the condition too.
Risk factors include:

  • Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Having pre-diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Being physically inactive
  • Increasing age
  • Having gestational diabetes during your pregnancy.

Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed in three ways through pathology testing.

  • A blood glucose test. This can be done as either a fasting or non-fasting test;
  • An oral glucose tolerance test, which will require you to have a fasting blood glucose test first, then be given a sugary drink and have your blood tested two hours after this;
  • A haemoglobin A1c test, which reflects your average blood glucose level over the past 10-12 week.

People who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes can delay it, and in some cases, prevent it from developing by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

This includes making healthy food choices, being a healthy weight and including regular physical activity in your day-to-day life. The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013, provides up-to-date advice about the amount and kinds of foods recommended for good health and well-being.

Looking after your diabetes is important for good health and for preventing complications such as damage to your eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.

Diabetes Tasmania has a team of accredited practicing dietitians and credentialed diabetes nurse educators who can assist in this area. The COACH Program® is recommended for people with type 2 diabetes and those at high risk. There are also other programs designed for people with diabetes including DESMOND and the SMARTS programs.

For more information about diabetes and effectively managing the disease, phone 1300 136 588 or visit

Contributed: Diabetes Tasmania

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