What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease where the body cannot use insulin properly and/or does not produce enough.  Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin helps to control the amount of sugar in your blood. Insulin helps sugar enter your cells, where it is used for energy. Without enough insulin, blood sugar levels can become too high and cause damage to organs, blood vessels and nerves.

Learn about the risk factors for diabetes here.

Take this Quiz to find out if you are at risk.

What are common symptoms of diabetes?

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight change (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is diagnosed when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Essentially, this means your body is having difficulty managing the sugar in your blood.  Almost 50% of those with prediabetes will develop diabetes. It is important to know if you have diabetes because some of the long term complications associated with diabetes (heart disease and nerve damage) may begin during prediabetes. A healthy, well-balanced diet, regular exercise and losing 5-10% of your weight can help slow down or prevent the progression to diabetes.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes happens when your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. If you have Type 1 diabetes, you must take insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children or young adults.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes happens when your cells don’t respond normally to insulin. This is called insulin insensitivity. This is the most common type of diabetes – 90% of people with diabetes have type 2. It is usually diagnosed in older adults; however, it can occur at any age.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes happens is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy..

How will my Diabetes be treated?

This will depend on the type of diabetes you have.  If you have Type 1 Diabetes, you must take insulin as your body does not produce any. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, the first line of treatment is often lifestyle change. This means eating a little healthier, and being more physically active. You may also need to take one or more medications or you may need to take insulin.

Do I need to test my blood? How often?

The number of times you need to test is different for everyone. It will depend on your type of diabetes, your medications, your diet and activity level.  Your diabetes team will teach you how to use a glucometer, how to test your sugar, how often and what the number means.

Depending on the medication you are on, there is a set number of test strips that are covered. If you are unsure if you qualify for more test strips, check with your physician, pharmacist or diabetes educator. You can also refer to the Ministry of Ontario’s website for more information.

What about driving?

You will have to check your blood sugar before you drive to ensure it is not too low. Your blood sugar should be over 5 to drive!  Please review this Fact Sheet from the Ministry of Transportation for more information.

Woah. That was a lot of information. What now?

Book an appointment with the Diabetes Education Team – We’re here to help!

And check out Diabetes Canada in the meantime for more information!