November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and QEII Endocrinologist Dr Shanthi Kannan has a simple message for anyone experiencing common symptoms of the disease.
“Detecting diabetes is simple and it’s important to get diagnosed as soon as possible so you can start managing its effects. If you are experiencing frequent urination, thirstiness, weight loss, and blurred vision, see your GP for a diabetes blood test.”
Dr Kannan said complications of diabetes, a serious chronic health condition that occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood, can be prevented if well-managed.
“When it comes to diabetes care, the focus is on swift and ongoing management,” Dr Kannan said, explaining how when left unchecked the disease damages the body.
“It affects your kidneys, your feet, your eyes and all the major blood vessels. I see so many clients with complications of long-term mismanagement but treatment options have vastly increased over the last few years and a lot of support is available.”
Dr Kannan said lifestyle interventions like healthy diet and weight loss are the most common first stage of diabetes management, but that patients should not be reticent to use tablets and insulin as directed their doctor.
“It’s common for people to want to avoid insulin injections because there is a perception out there that once you are on insulin you have come to the last stage of your diabetes management. But it’s important to keep in mind the complications of mismanagement are often far worse.”
Dr Kannan said QEII provides comprehensive multidisciplinary healthcare to people with the disease.
“We run two outpatient clinics per week with support from an endocrinologist, registrar and two diabetes nurse educators. We also have a dietitian and podiatrist to support diabetes management, and our diabetes nurses provide phone support to help patients with their insulin dosing.
“A Diabetes Nurse Navigator manages patients with Diabetes who have complex needs.”
Dr Kannan said although living with diabetes is often challenging, managing the disease has become a lot easier in recent years with support from new technologies.
“It has become quite simple to monitor blood glucose levels to ensure patients are progressing in the right direction, and there are also apps for dieting and exercise for diabetes management that our Diabetes Educators can use to support patients to meet their health goals.
“In the end, early detection and intervention is key to ensuring best health outcomes when it comes to diabetes.”