Give diabetes the finger!

This story originally appeared in Deadly Vibe Magazine Issue #8 September, 1997

We have just opened The Vault – all the back stories from old editions – dating back to the 1990s. To know where we are going, it's important to understand where we have been. And that story you can follow in the Deadly Vibe Vault!

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that causes high levels of sugar in the blood stream. It is caused by problems with the hormone “insulin” which is produced by the pancreas. There are two types of diabetes, non-insulin diabetes which is treated by weight reduction, diet and the use of drugs to increase insulin in your body and insulin dependent diabetes which is treated with insulin.

I’m too young to worry about diabetes!

Wrong. You are more likely to get diabetes in later years if you: spend your teenage years eating junk food, drink too much alcohol, aren’t active, if you’re overweight and if other family members have diabetes.

Will I grow two heads if I get diabetes?

No. Your symptoms will vary. You feel tired, weak, sleepy and grumpy. Your sores won’t heal and you feel itchy and you may visit the toilet a lot. You may also get boils and skin infections as well as blurred vision. Girls may get thrush.

I feel tired and grumpy – how do I know if I’ve got diabetes?

Diabetes is usually detected from a blood sample. No two foot needles are required, just a simple pin prick on your . . . finger. It is recommended that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people over the age of 15 be tested once a year. So when was the last time you were pricked??? See your local Aboriginal Health worker for further information.

You don’t get diabetes when you’re pregnant!

Wrong. Diabetes in pregnancy is called Gestational diabetes. Some women have high blood sugars in pregnancy which may be diagnosed by an oral glucose tolerance test between 26 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes may cause a baby to grow to big so when you’re in labour you may have trouble. Also recent research has suggested that women who do not manage their diabetes during pregnancy increase the chances of their baby getting diabetes later on. This is why it is very important to diagnose and treat diabetes.

Why should I worry about diabetes?

If you think that you are resilient and can’t be touched well be warned – current statistics indicate that it is estimated between 4.5% to 19%, and even in some communities 40% of Aboriginal people have non-insulin dependent diabetes.

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