Are You at Risk of Developing Diabetes?

While some forms of diabetes can be prevented and others can’t, it’s important to be aware of both the risk factors of diabetes and its symptoms in order to best prevent and/or diagnose the condition.

What are the risk factors for Type 1 diabetes?

The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes remains unknown. However, genetic predisposition to the condition may prove to be a risk for those born to a parent with Type 1 diabetes.

Similarly, environmental factors are currently being researched to assess whether there are any additional causes of Type 1 diabetes. However, as this is an autoimmune condition – it is unfortunately not preventable.

What are the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes?

In contrast to Type 1, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable and may be put into remission. Alongside family history and genetics, many lifestyle factors do contribute to developing the condition. Major risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese, including having a waist measurement of more than 94cm for men and 80cm for women
  • Having a poor diet high in fats, sugar and/or alcohol
  • Having an inactive lifestyle
  • Being over the age of forty
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having previously had gestational diabetes
  • Having previously had polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • If you are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Melanesian, Polynesian, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern or from the Indian sub-continent

What are the risk factors for gestational diabetes?

Occurring in between 5-10 per cent of Australian women, gestational diabetes is quite common and usually only lasts for the duration of pregnancy. It does however need to be carefully managed to ensure that it does not turn into Type 2 diabetes.

Those in a higher risk category that may develop gestational diabetes include:

  • Those who have gestational diabetes in their family history
  • Those aged 25 or over
  • Those with a family history of Type 2 diabetes
  • Those who are overweight
  • Those from indigenous Australia, Torres Strait Islander, Vietnamese, Chinese, middle eastern, Polynesian or Melanesian background
  • Those who have previously had polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Those who have given birth to a large baby

Gestational diabetes is not considered to be preventable, but can be temporary if managed correctly.

What symptoms will I experience if I have diabetes?

Symptoms of Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes are similar. However, while Type 1 symptoms may present suddenly, other forms of diabetes often have mild symptoms that can make the condition hard to detect. On some occasions, people with Type 2 or gestational diabetes experience no symptoms at all.

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst and increased hunger, appearing separately or together
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness and lack of concentration or energy
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Blurred vision
  • Slower-healing wounds than normal
  • Vomiting and stomach pain

Those experiencing any or a combination of the above symptoms should contact a healthcare professional.

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