The Māori Diabetes Collective of New Zealand; Te Rōpū Mate Huka ō Aotearoa, has a website to inform the general public and raise the awareness of Diabetes within the Māori community.
The instances of Diabetes within the Māori cummunity has become an epidemic. Type 2 diabetes is occurring within our Māori Communities, driven mainly by demographic trends and the increasing prevalence of obesity.
Two out of three Maori and Pacific diabetics die from diabetes – compared to one in three European. This is due to many contributing factors, however, one can't ignore the fact that diet, smoking, physical activity and weight control have played a major part in contributing.
Information on all topics relevant to Maori Diabetes will be avaiable on our website and if you are interested in submitting information or have any comments or suggestions please email: or see this website : www.maoridiabetes.co.nz
Diabetes is caused by having too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. This happens because the pancreas cannot make enough insulin.
Glucose is an essential source of energy for the brain and the body. Glucose in the bloodstream comes from carbohydrate foods, which are changed into glucose after we have eaten them.
Glucose also comes from the liver, which converts fat and protein into glucose to make sure there is a constant glucose supply even when we are not eating.
For people without diabetes the level of glucose in the body is between 4 and 8 mmol/L.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and has two jobs in the body - the first is to transport glucose from the blood supply into fat and muscle cells, where it can be used for energy. The second is to switch off the liver once the level of glucose in the blood is high enough.
Diabetes is the result of the body not creating enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels in the normal range. It cannot presently be cured but it can be controlled and you can lead a full and active life.
There are 3 types of diabetes:
People who do not make any insulin (or very little) have Type 1 diabetes. Because the immune system destroys the pancreas they have stopped making insulin, and their body is unable to use glucose for energy. They tend to lose weight very quickly because their body is actually being starved. Their health rapidly deteriorates and they would die if insulin were not given.
They therefore require insulin by injection plus healthy eating to stay alive and maintain good health.
People with Type 2 diabetes are still making insulin but the production is sluggish or their body is resistant to insulin. Becoming overweight is almost always the cause of the body becoming resistant to insulin and can trigger Type 2 diabetes, even in young people. Type 2 diabetes can be treated with weight loss and regular physical activity. Medication in the form of tablets is often required to reduce the resistance to insulin or to stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in that the pancreas continues to get more sluggish over time. People with Type 2 diabetes may eventually require insulin.
Diabetes of pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
Gestational diabetes is when a pregnant woman has high levels of glucose in her blood. High blood glucose is caused because the mother cannot produce enough insulin (a pregnant woman's insulin needs are two to three times that of someone who is not pregnant).
Complications of diabetes
Complications are the negative effects of having a condition or illness. There is a range of complications that may develop with diabetes.
Many of the complications of diabetes are much more likely to occur if you have high blood glucose levels or high blood pressure over long periods of time. Keeping both your blood glucose level and your blood pressure in as healthy a range as you can is your best defence against developing the complications of diabetes.
Remember that every improvement you make to your blood glucose level or blood pressure will reduce your risk of developing complications. You don't have to be in the target range to reduce your risks; although you will get the best improvement the closer your blood pressure and blood glucose are to target levels.
Diabetes has been the leading cause of people developing blindness in New Zealand. However you can to do a lot to cut down the chance of developing eye problems. Existing damage can often be halted, or prevented from getting worse. Diabetes eye damage must be picked up early for it to be successfully stopped or treated. It's very important that you have a full diabetes eye check when you first know you have diabetes, and regular eye checks after that.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop foot problems. Problems are very often in the form of nerve damage and / or damage to your blood vessels. I Prevention depends on you taking good care of your feet every day, maintaining healthy blood glucose and blood pressure levels.
In the past quite a large number of people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes developed kidney disease. People are able to monitor and improve their own blood glucose levels now so it's thought that a lot less people will develop this problem.
Impotence is a side effect of diabetes for many men. Impotence is when a man isn’t able to have an erection firm enough, nor can he maintain it for long enough, to have satisfying sexual intercourse.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association between 50 to 70 percent of men with diabetes develop this problem. The longer a man has diabetes, the greater his chances are of developing the condition.
Men with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to experience impotence at an earlier age (this is because they have usually had diabetes for a longer period of time). Men who have Type 2 diabetes (which usually develops in adulthood) may not experience the problem until later in life. If your diabetes is out of control, this can lead to temporary impotence.
When you have diabetes you are more likely to get vaginitis - inflammation of the vagina than women who don't have diabetes. Vaginitis is often caused by a fungus. If you have this condition you may have itching or burning and you may notice a discharge.
When you have diabetes there are times when your vaginal secretions contain high levels of blood glucose. Unfortunately, this means that fungal or bacterial infections will thrive and you will be more at risk of getting these infections.
Symptoms of vaginal infection are itching of the vagina and vulva, often associated with a discharge from the vagina onto your underpants.
This can be treated by pessaries and creams. Occasionally a course of tablets taken by mouth by both you and your sexual partner is also needed. If your blood glucose levels are high, bringing them into a more healthy range will help.
When you have diabetes:
- You are more likely to develop skin problems
- Skin problems are more likely to become infected (especially if your blood glucose levels are high)
- If you are a person who's prone to developing dry skin it's best to take action to keep your skin more supple. This includes protecting your skin from harsh chemicals, harsh weather and harsh soaps. It also includes using a light moisturiser on your skin regularly
- You are far less likely to develop skin problems if you take good care of your skin, and have healthy blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol (lipids) levels
Gum, Mouth and Teeth problems
- People with diabetes are prone to get problems affecting their gums, teeth and mouth.
- Gum disease is the most common mouth problem for people with diabetes.
- Gum disease can start at any age.
- Damaged nerves are a common complication of diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
- Diabetic neuropathy is actually a range of disorders that can affect three types of nerves (sensory nerves, motor nerves and autonomic nerves)
- Some nerve damage causes pain. Other nerve damage causes numbness.
- Maintaining healthy blood glucose and blood pressure levels, and avoiding excess alcohol and cigarettes will help reduce your chances of developing nerve damage
Heart and blood vessels
- People with diabetes may develop significant heart disease without having chest pain. It may cause shortness of breath or sudden nausea, or you may get swelling in the ankles.You can greatly reduce your chance of developing heart or blood vessel disease by:
- Stopping smoking.
- Getting regular amounts of exercise (20-30 minutes on most days of week).
- Achieving a healthy body weight.
- Achieving healthy blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels (through exercise, healthy eating, and medication if needed)
- Chest pain (angina) occurring with exercise is the usual sign of heart disease.
When you have diabetes you have more chance of developing a range of infections: bladder and kidney infections, Oral infections, serious foot problems, skin infections, and vaginal infections.
The thyroid is a small gland in the lower part of the neck. It manufactures essential hormones that help regulate cell activity in our bodies.
Hypothyroidism is when there is too little thyroid hormone circulating in the body. Its symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Listlessness and depression
- Memory loss and mental "dullness"
- Muscle and joint pain
- High cholesterol levels
- Feeling cold (when no one else is)
- Husky voice
- Dry skin
- Heavy periods (in women)
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite of hypothyroidism - too much thyroid hormone is being produced. Common symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Feeling hot (when no one else is)
- A pounding heart
- Tremor of the hands
- Hair loss
- Feelings of nervousness and irritability
- Insomnia or restlessness
- In women, light or decreased periods
Diabetes and hypothyroidism
Studies have shown that the incidence of hypothyroidistm seems to be increased in both people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Fatigue may set in and you won't feel like undertaking any physical activity. This may lead to weight gain from the decreased physical activity and a slower metabolism.
However, once a person with hypothyroidism receives thyroid replacement medication, their thyroid levels usually return to normal, as does their diabetes medication requirements.
The start of hyperthyroidism in a person with diabetes means that their blood glucose levels may rise slightly. If the condition remains untreated and becomes more severe, diabetes management can be much harder. Weight loss may occur, too many ketones (which are the end result of fat breakdown) may begin circulating in the blood, and more insulin or medication will be required to lower blood glucose levels. Once hyperthyroidism is successfully treated, however, diabetes management is improved
Do you have diabetes?
270,000 New Zealanders have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. It is an epidemic.
Diabetes New Zealand is the only charity in New Zealand that represents people with diabetes.
Take the right steps and stay healthy.
Phone 0800 369 636 to join Diabetes New Zealand or your local diabetes society.