Australians urged to monitor diabetes during COVID-19

This National Diabetes Week, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and Diabetes Australia are urging Australians living with diabetes to look after their health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The updated edition of Management of type 2 diabetes: A handbook for general practice (Diabetes Handbook) provides health professionals with new information on issues, including early-onset type 2 diabetes, the use of technology in helping people with diabetes, how to best to manage type 2 diabetes in older people and the impact of diabetes on mental health.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said, “People with diabetes need to keep a close watch on their condition and should consult with their GP regularly, particularly if any health problems emerge. It is also vital that anyone with diabetes symptoms, including fatigue, urinating often and heightened thirst, consults their GP right away as this may be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many people delaying or avoiding a trip to the GP. A June 2020 survey of more than 700 people found 32 per cent of respondents had delayed or avoided a visit to a GP in the last three months.”

He added that the rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes was presenting major challenges for GPs.

“The number of Australians aged 65 and over is expected to more than double by 2057 and about 15 per cent of this population are currently living with type 2 diabetes.

“Within 20 years the number of people living with type 2 diabetes could rise to more than 2.5 million. This is an alarming statistic given that there were an estimated 870,000 people with type 2 diabetes in 2014.”

President Nespolon says that socially disadvantaged Australians are twice as likely to develop diabetes.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said, “The new areas of focus in the handbook are very important – early-onset type 2 diabetes, use of technologies, older people and their specific issues, and of course the mental health burden of type 2 diabetes.”