What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (sometimes referred to as sugar) in the blood. Over time high glucose levels can damage the body’s blood vessels and nerves.

There are three main types of diabetes including:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Gestational

The EXPOsing diabetes program focuses on diabetes management for adults living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you are looking for information on gestational diabetes visit our website.

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Diabetes and your body

In order for our bodies to do everything we need to do we require energy, which comes from the food we eat.

When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates, our mouth, stomach and intestines break this food down into glucose, our body’s main energy source. Glucose enters our bloodstream so it can be transported to the body’s cells. The amount of glucose we have in our bloodstream is referred to as our ‘blood glucose level’ or BGL for short.

An increase in our BGL stimulates the release of a hormone called insulin from our pancreas.

Insulin acts like a key to ‘unlock’ our body’s cells, allowing glucose into those cells so that it can be used for energy.

When you have diabetes, your pancreas either cannot make insulin, or the insulin produced is not enough, does not work properly, or both. In managing diabetes your body can experience high BGLs (hyperglycaemia) or low BGLs (hypoglycaemia) which are glucose levels outside of the target range.

BGLs outside the healthy range can be harmful to our bodies. Maintaining your BGL within the healthy range is important for ongoing health and wellbeing as well as reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications.

What happens when you have Diabetes?
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Blood glucose monitoring

Understanding blood glucose monitoring

Regularly monitoring what your blood glucose levels are is an important part of keeping your body well when you have diabetes. It also helps you understand how your body is responding to changes in what you eat, your physical activity, medicines and other factors.

It is important to know when and how often it would be useful for you to monitor you BGL so discuss this with your diabetes health care team. It’s also important to understand what your BGLs mean for your diabetes management and ongoing health.

BGL Meter
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