There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Approximately 10–15% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. This autoimmune condition usually presents in people under 40-years-old, but it can be diagnosed at any age. We still don’t know the cause of type 1 diabetes, but the body is triggered to destroy the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in dangerously high blood glucose levels.
In terms of symptoms, Renza advises watching out for the four Ts: thirst, tired, toilet, thinner.
“The symptoms are often really acute,” she says. “Noticing that you need to drink so much water, like an unquenchable thirst, or losing weight quite rapidly.
“That happens because you have a genetic predisposition to it happening, or there's also an environmental factor in there. Although, we don't know necessarily what those environment factors are,” says Renza.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 85–90% of diabetes in Australia, making it by far the most common form of the condition. Type 2 diabetes can present at any age, and certain factors can influence your risk of developing the condition, including:
- Being above the healthy weight range for your age.
- Having a family history of diabetes.
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Individuals from particular cultural backgrounds are also at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This includes those with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Polynesian, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Melanesian heritage.
Roughly 12–14% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes. During pregnancy, the development of insulin can be suppressed by hormone production for the placenta – leading to higher than usual levels of glucose in the blood. The condition usually presents itself between weeks 24–28 of pregnancy. Most women’s insulin production will return to normal after they give birth, but the diagnoses of gestational diabetes indicates a higher level of risk for future development of type 2 diabetes for mother and child.