If you’re living with diabetes, it’s common to have many questions about your condition and its treatment.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers…

Q: Should I use sweeteners now that I have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes?

A: We encourage people living with diabetes to follow the same healthy eating principles as those not living with diabetes. This includes limiting the amount of sugars in our diet. A small amount of added sugar is still suitable to include.

Most sweeteners do not cause your blood glucose levels to rise, however having sweeteners may not satisfy your appetite for sweet foods. Some people may find they continue to crave something sweet to eat or drink. Naturally sweeter tasting foods like fruit and yoghurt are the preferred choices.

Small amounts of sugar in a cup of tea or coffee won’t cause significant issues long-term particularly when balanced with plenty of vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy and protein (lean meats).

Q: How can I find a diabetes educator in my area?

A: The Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) website provides a list of Diabetes Educators that can be found in your local area.

It is as simple as typing in your post code under ‘Find a CDE’ displayed on the home page. This will display all the current educators found within that postcode. Visit the ADEA website at https://www.adea.com.au/.

Q: I have just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and going overseas, will I be covered by insurance?

A: Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t get travel insurance or that it has to be expensive. It simply means that you need to do your research in order to get the right insurance for you.

Travel Insurance provides essential assistance if you fall ill or are injured while you are travelling, either within Australia or overseas.

Most Travel Insurance companies will have product disclosure statements which explains terms and conditions including the information on pre-existing conditions.

Diabetes is included in the list of pre-existing medical conditions, so it is important to contact the travel insurance companies direct to see if they will cover you.

Tip: Have medical reports from your doctor before applying for insurance which shows:

  • Your diabetes is well managed
  • Your condition fits the description of pre-existing conditions
  • You would be unlikely to need hospital treatment or to make a claim during your trip

Q: I have type 2 diabetes and am starting insulin, does this mean I have type 1 diabetes?

A: Type 2 diabetes can sometimes initially be managed through lifestyle modification including a healthy diet, regular exercise and monitoring your blood glucose levels.

However, sometimes healthy eating and exercise is not enough to keep the blood glucose levels in a target range.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and as time progresses, the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin of its own to manage their blood glucose levels, and insulin is often commenced.

Type 2 diabetes doesn’t turn into Type 1 diabetes as the two conditions are different. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition, Type 2 occurs when the body no longer uses insulin efficiently.

Q: I would like to travel overseas for an extended period. Can you advise me of my options for medical equipment, medication and/or treatment?

A: When travelling to other countries, some of the costs for medically necessary care may be covered if the country has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia. We have agreements with:

This provides travellers with benefits similar to Medicare, typically for emergency care or care for an illness or injury that can’t wait till you get home.

Medication: It is important to know before you travel that not all medications that are prescribed in Australia are available in other countries, or they may be considered an illegal or controlled substance.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you’re travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply.

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you’ll take and that it's for personal use only.

Equipment: It is best to arrange all diabetes medication and equipment required for the entirety of your trip (including: insulin, syringes, pen needles, pump and consumables, lancets, test strips, meter) as you may not be able to purchase the equipment while travelling.

Insurance: Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

More information can be found at:

Q: Having given up eating sweets (lollies), I do like to eat licorice at times, however I have been told that is isn’t good for people with diabetes. Now I am totally confused, can you help me?

A: Licorice is classified as a ‘sometimes’ food due to it being a source of added sugars. People with diabetes can still consume licorice (or other sweets) however we suggest consuming small amounts and perhaps once a week or less, depending on what your goals are.

Q: Can someone please explain to me why, I have to go to my GP every six months to get him to sign a piece of paper confirming that I have diabetes and require to purchase test strips for my glucometer?

A: The Australian Government has introduced changes to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), these changes include access to subsidised blood glucose test strips. 

An independent review of products used in the management of diabetes found that there is limited evidence that self-monitoring of blood glucose improves blood glucose control, quality of life or long-term complications in people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin.

As a result, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended more targeted use of test strips for people with type 2 diabetes to ensure that test strips are being used in the most appropriate way.

People with type 2 diabetes not using insulin will now receive an initial six-month supply of subsidised blood glucose test strips under the NDSS.

This means registrants will be able to access blood glucose test strips, as required, over a six-month period, starting any time on or after 1 July 2016.

After six months, registrants will be able to continue to access subsidised test strips if their doctor, nurse practitioner or credentialed diabetes educator considers that there is a clinical need for them to continue to monitor their blood glucose levels.