Diabetes: All You Need To Know

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We explain the distinct types of diabetes, how is this chronic condition managed, and does it affect life insurance premiums?

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic condition that, according to Diabetes Australia, affects around 1.7million Australians. Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to regulate glucose conversion through the hormone, insulin.

There are three main types of diabetes mellitus:

Type 1 DM:

Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder where the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to meets the body’s needs because the cells that make insulin are under attack by the immune system. Type 1 is usually detected in childhood, is not linked to lifestyle factors, and represents only around 5-10% of diabetes cases.

Type 2 DM:

Type 2 is the most common form of DM, representing around 85-90% of cases, and is often associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. It is not known what causes Type 2, but there are strong genetic risk factors associated with it. In Type 2, either not enough insulin is produced by the pancreas, or there is resistance to the effects of insulin.

Gestational Diabetes (also known as GDM):

GDM (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus) is a form of diabetes that presents during pregnancy, and usually disappears following birth. In Australia, around 5-10% of pregnant women are affected by GDM, diagnosed when blood glucose levels are higher than normal. There is no one cause of GDM, but risk factors include family history, age, obesity, and ethnic background.

Diabetes Can Lead to Other Health Conditions

Diabetes can affect the whole body and has complications that can include heart attack, kidney disease, blindness, and disorders of blood circulation and nerve function.

DM Management

The management of DM is aimed at keeping blood glucose levels stabilised and within a normal range (measured by an Hba1c test) and can be achieved by a healthy diet, oral medication and insulin, either alone or in combination.

Five tips to keep diabetes under control:
  • Consuming less fat, calories, sugar, and salt
  • Consuming more fibre, through wholegrains
  • Track and record your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels
  • Exercise and be more active. Long walks, yoga, or even gardening is a great place to start
  • Adhere to your prescription medications.

Diabetes and Life Insurance

Diabetics can get life insurance, but this will depend on many factors including the type of DM, your age at diagnosis, level of control, any complications, treatment compliance as well as the presence of any other risk factors. For example, a 50-year-old male with well-controlled Type 2 DM, diagnosed within the past five years, with no family history, a normal HbA1c, and with no complicating or additional risk factors may be able to get life cover at close to standard rates or with a small loading.

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