CPR First Aid

What is Diabetes?

What is diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease that affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar for energy. It is a medical condition affecting people of all ages that can lead to serious health problems if it is not managed correctly. Thus, It is crucial to know the signs and risks of diabetes so anyone susceptible can stay healthy or get the needed information and help reverse it.


The Role of Insulin in Diabetes

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use sugar for energy. People with diabetes either do not make enough insulin, or their body’s cells cannot utilise it properly. Without enough insulin, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being a source of energy.

High blood sugar can damage nerves and blood vessels which can ultimately progress to

  • heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • blindness

Types of Diabetes

The different types of diabetes all have one problem i. e. the body is incapable of producing enough insulin or cannot use insulin properly resulting in high levels of glucose or sugar in the blood.

Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)

Also known as Type 1 diabetes, IDDM is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This results in a complete loss of insulin production and requires daily insulin injections for survival. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or adolescence but can occur in adults.

Shared by SA Health, the 1995 Australian National Health Survey showed a 19% prevalence of Type 1 diabetes out of the 430,700 self-reported diabetes.

Adult-onset diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a widely-known and prevalent type around the world. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, or the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. However, women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA)

LADA is a slowly progressive form of autoimmune diabetes more often diagnosed in adulthood. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which typically develops in childhood, LADA progresses more slowly and may not require insulin therapy for years. Most people with LADA will eventually need insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is higher than normal blood sugar levels but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. The body has trouble processing sugar correctly, and if left unchecked, prediabetes can lead to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Signs and Symptoms

Here are a few signs and symptoms of diabetes that you can look out for, especially if you have a family history of diabetes or have comorbidities.

Frequent urination: One of the 3 Ps of diabetes, polyuria, is caused by the increased sugar level in the blood, which forces the kidneys to work overtime to filter it out. It can lead to dehydration and an urge to urinate more often than usual.

Increased thirst and extreme hunger: Another symptom is polydipsia. The body is trying to get rid of the excess sugar, which leads to increased thirst. On the other hand, an increase in appetite due to diabetes is called polyphagia. Hunger doesn’t go away even after eating a full meal.

Fatigue: This is caused by the body’s inability to use glucose for energy. When too much sugar is in the blood, the body cannot convert it to energy, leading to fatigue.

Blurred vision: When the sugar level in the blood is too high, it can cause the eye’s lens to swell, resulting in blurred vision. In severe cases, blindness.

Slow-healing wounds: Diabetes can cause poor circulation, leading to slower wound healing. Patients with diabetes are advised not to undergo surgical procedures readily.

Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet: Too much sugar in the blood can damage the nerves, leading to numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Weight loss: This is caused by the body’s inability to use glucose for energy. When the body cannot convert glucose to energy, it will break down muscle and fat for energy, leading to weight loss.

Yeast infections: Women with diabetes are more prone to yeast infections. It is because high blood sugar levels can promote yeast growth.

Skin problems: Diabetes can cause a variety of skin problems, such as darkening of the skin, itching, and rashes.

Impotence: This is a symptom of diabetes that can be caused by nerve damage or damage to the blood vessels. High sugar levels in the blood can damage the blood vessels, leading to impotence.

In order to carefully manage the symptoms and assist a diabetic patient, a certificate in first aid Adelaide is an asset to employers, families, and the community.

Hypoglycaemic Attack (Low blood sugar)Visual guide to hypoglycaemic attack and its symptoms


There are many symptoms that can be associated with low blood sugar. The following is a short list of the more common ones:

  • Mental confusion, inability to concentrate 
  • Headache
  • Sweating 
  • Pale skin
  • Mood swings, such as temper outburst
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Trembling, shaking, tiredness or weakness 
  • Hunger, a craving for sweets
  • Slurred speech
  • Unresponsive or seizure 
  • May progress to unconsciousness 

Management (If a hypoglycemic attack is suspected):

  • Stop any exercise, rest and reassure
  • Offer the casualty sugar. Ideally, this should be something that can be absorbed quickly such as:
    o Fruit juice – approx. 200ml
    o Soft drink, sugar-sweetened beverage (not a diet, etc) – approx. 200ml
    o Confectionary (jelly beans 5-20, Skittles 20-25)
    o Honey or sugar – 3 teaspoons
    o Glucose gels – 15g
  • Monitor for improvement – resolution of symptoms would be expected within 15 minutes

If symptoms still persist after 10 to 15 minutes, and the casualty is capable of swallowing and following basic commands, administer another round of substance with sugar as noted in the previous slide

Once the casualty is feeling better, suggest a small meal with carbohydrates (e.g. sandwich & milk), as this will help stabilise their blood sugar over a longer period of time

If the condition deteriorates or does not improve:

  • the casualty becomes unconscious, follow DRSABCD
  • Seek medical aid urgently

DO NOT attempt to feed an unconscious casualty sweet food by mouth, as this will only cause a significant risk to their airways and likely cause them to choke.

Hyperglycaemia (High blood sugar)

High blood sugar generally occurs in people with undiagnosed diabetes. The effect is a build-up of toxins in the blood called Ketoacidosis. Prolonged high blood glucose also alters the shape of the lens in the eye; hence, blurred vision can also be a symptom.

When Ketoacidosis is present, the smell of acetone may be found to be present in the casualty’s breath (this is a very sweet smell) as well as rapid, deep breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and a state of altered consciousness. It can lead to unconsciousness if not managed.

Get a Clear Picture of Hyperglycaemia Symptoms with this Infographic

Hyperglycemia (High blood sugar) Symptoms:

The most common symptoms of hyperglycemia are:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive and frequent urination
  • Recent weight loss
  • Rapid pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fruity sweet smell of acetone on the breath (similar to paint thinner or nail polish Remover)
  • Dry skin and mouth, with sunken eyes (signs of dehydration)
  • Confusion, a deteriorating level of consciousness, or unresponsiveness


If the casualty presents symptoms suggesting hyperglycemia and does not have a diabetes management plan, immediately refer them to be assessed by professional medical personnel. If the casualty with diabetes has a diabetes management plan, then that plan should be followed.

  • High blood sugar is a medical emergency and a prompt diagnosis and treatment is the only way to relieve the casualty’s symptoms
  • If the casualty is unresponsive and not breathing normally, commence resuscitation following DRSABCD and call 000 / 112 for an ambulance
  • If the casualty is unconscious but breathing, lie the casualty on their side in the recovery position while ensuring that the airway is clear


As per excerpt from ANZCOR Guideline 9.2.9 – First Aid Management of a Diabetic Emergency, as a first aider:

  • If trained to do so and a glucometer is available, checking the person’s blood glucose level will guide management and can confirm hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.
  • Treatment may lead to a marked improvement if the blood glucose level is low, and is unlikely to do harm if the blood glucose level is high
  • When unsure if the person has a high or low blood glucose level, the safest option is to treat hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level).

What are the Complications of Diabetes?

Researchers from the University of Adelaide have investigated about 1.5 million adult patients and reported that many people are unknowingly living with diabetes or are at significant risk of developing life-threatening symptoms.

People with diabetes need to be very careful in managing their conditions and stay healthy as complications associated with diabetes include:

  • Cardiovascular disease e.g. heart attack
  • Nephropathy – kidney disease
  • Neuropathy – nerve damage
  • Retinopathy – eye damage
  • Foot problems due to gangrene – tissue death due to a lack of blood flow. Diabetes is also a leading cause of amputations.

How Likely Would I Get Diabetes?

Several groups of people are at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes. These are as follows:

  • Obesity
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, or Asian American
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • Are physically inactive
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 4.08 kilograms

If you have any risk factors, you must talk to your doctor about ways to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.

What Lifestyle Factors Affect Diabetes Risk?

If a person’s daily routine involves having a sedentary lifestyle, eating unhealthy food, smoking, or drinking too much alcohol for many years, then the chances of developing diabetes are high.


Can you get diabetes overnight?

No, you cannot get diabetes overnight. Diabetes is a chronic condition that develops over time. However, you may be at risk for developing the disease if you have certain risk factors previously mentioned.

How Can You Reduce the Risk of Diabetes?

Maintain healthy body weight. Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

Eat a healthy diet. A diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of diabetes.

Get regular exercise. Exercise can help you lose weight, lower blood sugar levels, and help prevent insulin resistance.

Quit smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

Reduce your stress levels. Stress can increase your blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain. Finding ways to manage your stress can help you keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Is There a Test That Could Indicate My Risk of Getting Diabetes?

Some tests could indicate your risk for diabetes by measuring the amount of glucose in your body, such as the fasting blood glucose test or the oral glucose tolerance test. A more specific blood test called HbA1c is used to identify type 2 diabetes.

Your best bet is to talk to your doctor about your specific risks and glucose monitoring. They can help you determine if you should be tested and how often.

Diabetes Care and Treatment

Effective diabetes management revolves around a comprehensive approach that includes medication, lifestyle changes, and regular physical activity. Metformin, a widely prescribed oral medication, plays a crucial role in managing diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing glucose production in the liver.

For individuals with type 1 diabetes or advanced type 2 diabetes, an insulin pump can provide precise insulin delivery, mimicking the body’s natural process more closely. However, alongside medications, lifestyle modifications are key. Engaging in regular physical activity not only helps control blood sugar levels but also improves overall health and well-being. Coupled with healthy eating habits, which emphasise balanced and nutritious meals, diabetes patients can achieve better glucose management and reduce the risk of complications significantly.

What Does Diabetes Education Consist of?

Education about this health condition is an integral part of diabetes management. It can help people better understand and manage the disease effectively especially if a person is at high risk of diabetes or showing any symptoms of type 2 diabetes. This can be provided by various healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, dietitians, and diabetes educators.

CPR First Aid is a leading training provider (RTO 21903) of first aid courses in Adelaide. Receive top-notch training from fully qualified trainers in providing first aid for children and adults, CPR, DRSABCD, and many more. Reach out to us for more information to get first aid certified.


Can type 2 diabetes turn into type 1?

No, they are distinct conditions with different underlying causes and mechanisms. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, while type 2 diabetes is primarily related to insulin resistance and lifestyle factors.

What happens if a Type 2 diabetic doesn’t eat?

Without having food in a day, a Type 2 diabetes person’s blood sugar levels may drop too low or become imbalanced, leading to potential complications like dizziness, weakness, confusion, and even fainting. It is essential for individuals with Type 2 diabetes to follow a balanced and consistent meal plan to manage their blood sugar levels effectively.

Why do thin people get diabetes?

This is possible due to various factors, such as genetics, sedentary lifestyle, and insulin resistance. While weight is a significant risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, it’s not the only determinant, and other lifestyle and genetic factors can contribute to the development of the condition in thin individuals.

How do you feel when your blood sugar is too high?

Individuals may experience symptoms such as frequent thirst, increased urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and headaches. Elevated blood sugar levels can indicate uncontrolled diabetes and may require prompt medical attention to prevent complications.

What is dka?

DKA stands for diabetic ketoacidosis, a severe and life-threatening complication primarily associated with Type 1 diabetes. It occurs when the body produces high levels of ketones due to insulin deficiency, leading to acidic blood pH, dehydration, and potentially causing coma or death if left untreated.



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