Diabetes warning signs Aussie woman missed while on holiday

Jul 25, 2017

An Australian woman on a ’round-the-world trip didn’t realise the severe symptoms she was experiencing were indications of a serious illness, not just a side effect of travel.

Carly Pink-O’Sullivan from Perth was diagnosed with type one diabetes after backpacking through China, Europe and Nepal. She experienced symptoms such as hair loss, extreme hunger and thirst, numb toes and sweating, chalking them up to incidentals of travel, caused by activities such as excessive walking and swimming in chlorinated pools.

Pink-O’Sullivan, a lover of all things health and fitness, told Caters News Agency: “My hair was falling out and I was always so thirsty – at one point drinking up to 12 litres of water a day – and I was really skinny and always hungry but I didn’t realise those were symptoms of diabetes.”

While travelling through Germany her toes went numb for several weeks, but thought it was because it was cold and she had been wearing closed shoes the entire time.

Read more: Safety tips for flying with diabetes

“I assumed my hair was falling out because I was swimming a lot in the ocean and chlorine pools, it got worse as I was travelling in Bali but finally stopped when I was diagnosed and started using insulin,” she said.

The diagnosis came as a complete shock to Pink-O’Sullivan, who said she was the healthiest member of her family and looked after her health.

According to Diabetes Australia, type one diabetes is an auto-immune condition where the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that cause insulin. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented.

One of the facts presented about type one diabetes is that the onset is usually abrupt and the symptoms are obvious.

The disease can be diagnosed with a simple blood test and managed with insulin injections. If a person with diabetes doesn’t manage the illness, it can lead to severe consequences such as kidney disease, limb amputation and blindness.

Read more: Six tips for staying healthy when you’re travelling with deep vein thrombosis

Type two diabetes is managed with a combination of regular physical activity, healthy eating and weight reduction, as well as medication and/or insulin injections.

If you suspect you may have diabetes, or any illness for that matter, the best thing to do is to see a doctor as soon as you realise there may be something wrong, even if you are overseas.

Be sure to check the travel insurance you purchase has adequate medical cover as well.

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