National Diabetes Week (10-16 July)

Wednesday 13 July 11:18 AM

This year in National Diabetes Week (10-16 July), Diabetes Australia aims to raise awareness about diabetes-related amputations, so that more can be done to reduce the impact of diabetes.

Diabetes Australia’s headline brings to our attention the fact that 280 Australians develop diabetes every day, which is one person every five minutes. The statistics should be a wake-up call to all Australians. Be aware – learn about the disease, and find out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by taking a quick survey on the Diabetes Australia website.

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease linked to heredity, and generally occurs in people under 30, although it can occur at any age. It cannot be prevented or cured; however, it can be managed successfully with insulin injections. Onset is usually rapid, with readily identifiable symptoms. About 10-15 per cent of diabetes cases are Type 1.

On the other hand, Type 2 Diabetes develops more slowly (it may be years), and is related more to modifiable lifestyle factors, although it too has family and genetic history as a risk factor. Typically, it develops in adults aged over 45; however, an increasing number of younger people are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. In its early stages, the disease can be managed with diet and exercise; however, as the disease progresses, treatment with insulin injections may become necessary. About 85-90 per cent of diabetes cases are Type 2.

One of the situations where a first aider could become involved is if someone with diabetes exhibits symptoms of hypoglycaemia - low blood sugar - also known as a hypo or ‘low’, where the person’s blood glucose level (BGL) calls below 4mmol/L (millimoles per litre). Onset can be rapid and, if left untreated, a hypo can result in unconsciousness.

The opposite situation is a diabetic exhibiting symptoms of hyperglycaemia – high blood sugar. This may develop over a longer period (hours or even days) and may not be obvious to the person until their BGL is extremely high. For Type 1 diabetes, this can progress to a serious condition called Ketoacidosis.

Standard first aid management applies to both situations - you can download a chart from Allens Training that explains causes, signs and symptoms, and first aid management. Some of Allens Training partners have firsthand experience related to dealing with diabetes emergencies, and use their experience to enhance and illustrate their Provide First Aid training courses.

Provide First Aid courses are available Australia-wide from Allens Training extensive partner network, which includes more than 500 qualified trainers. To find a trainer near you, click on the Find Training in Your Area button on the Allens Training home page, enter your postcode in the search field, then choose from the list of trainers.