Diabetes Education

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What is a Credentialled Diabetes Educator?

Credentialled Diabetes Educators are qualified health professionals who specialise in diabetes. Their goal is to help people with diabetes to self-manage their condition – both to lead a more comfortable life and to prevent complications.

A diabetes educator will give you tailored information, support and/or motivation for the management of your diabetes. With in-depth knowledge on all aspects of diabetes, they can work with other members of your healthcare team – such as your GP, podiatrist or optometrist – to ensure you’re getting the best possible care.


When should I see a diabetes educator?

When you are first diagnosed, your Credentialled Diabetes Educator will walk you through what to expect with your diabetes. They will also set you up with an individualised plan to keep your blood glucose levels within the appropriate target range.

They will also help you organise tests and screenings for diabetes complications. This will vary depending on your diabetes, your lifestyle and your age.

Ongoing, they can also help you when your blood glucose levels fluctuate.

Throughout your journey, your Credentialled Diabetes Educator is a valuable member of your care team. Their goal is to empower you to self-manage your diabetes by providing up-to-date knowledge, motivation and support.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious complex condition which can affect the entire body. Diabetes requires daily self care and if complications develop, it can have a significant impact on quality of life and can reduce life expectancy. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, you can live an enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it.

There are different types of diabetes – all of them complex and serious. The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.


Pre-diabetes describes a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, although not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes has no signs or symptoms.

People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Two million Australians have pre-diabetes and are at high-risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Without sustained lifestyle changes, including healthy eating, increased activity and losing weight, approximately one in three people with pre-diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

There are two pre-diabetes conditions (some people have both these conditions):

  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
  • Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) is where blood glucose levels are escalated in the fasting state but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. We do not know what causes this auto-immune reaction. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness and fatigue and blurred vision.

Type 1 diabetes:

  • Occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin
  • Represents around 10 per cent of all cases of diabetes and is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions
  • Usually has a fast onset with obvious symptoms
  • Is managed with insulin injections several times a day or the use of an insulin pump

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas.

While we don’t know what causes type 2 diabetes, it is typically associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. Type 2 diabetes also has strong genetic and family related risk factors. For some people, the first sign may be a complication of diabetes such as a heart attack, vision problems or a foot ulcer.

Type 2 diabetes:

  • Is diagnosed when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (reduced insulin production) and/or the insulin does not work effectively and/or the cells of the body do not respond to insulin effectively (known as insulin resistance)
  • Represents 85–90 per cent of all cases of diabetes
  • Usually develops in adults over the age of 45 years but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups including children, adolescents and young adults
  • Is more likely in people with a family history of type 2 diabetes or from particular ethnic backgrounds
  • Is managed with a combination of regular physical activity, healthy eating and weight reduction. As type 2 diabetes is often progressive, most people will need oral medications and/or insulin injections in addition to lifestyle changes over time.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes mellitus (sometimes referred to as GDM) is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Most women will no longer have diabetes after the baby is born. However, some women will continue to have high blood glucose levels after delivery. It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting thousands of pregnant women. Between 12% and 14% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes and this usually occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. All pregnant women should be tested for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy (except those women who already have diabetes). Women who have risk factors for gestational diabetes should be tested earlier in their pregnancy.