Diabetes Education and Care

Understanding Diabetes


Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which your body cannot properly store and use food for energy. Maintaining near normal blood sugar levels will reduce risk of complications, including:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Kidney Disease (Nephropathy)
  • Eye Disease (Retinopathy)
  • Nerve Disease (Neuropathy)

Types of Diabetes

  • Type 1 Diabetes is an auto immune disorder with no known cause, accounting for about 10% of the Diabetes population. At present there is no cure and treatment is daily insulin injections.
  • Type 2 Diabetes makes up the other 90% of the Diabetes population. Its onset is usually adulthood, but it is becoming more prevalent in high-risk youth, with the pancrea unable to produce enough insulin or the insulin is not working properly (insulin resistance). Treatment is healthy eating and exercise, oral medication and/or insulin injections.
  • Gestational Diabetes is discovered in pregnancy, generally between 24 and 28 weeks gestation, due to the effects of placental hormones on the insulin action. This condition goes away after birth but both mom and baby are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Treatment is typically diet and exercise but may require insulin injections.

Symptoms - Recognize these Signs?

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

Note: In Type 1 diabetes, the symptoms progress quickly.

Risk Factors

No one knows what causes Type 1 Diabetes. There is no known single cause of Type 2 Diabetes, but some factors put people at a greater risk. If you are 40 or over, you are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes and should be tested at least every three years.

If you meet any of the following risks you should be tested for diabetes earlier and/or more often:

  • A parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • A member of high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian or African descent)
  • Health related complications that are associated with diabetes; heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, impotence or nerve damage
  • Gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 4 kg (9 lbs) at birth
  • Had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • Overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle)
  • Diagnosed with any of the following conditions
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Acanthosis nigrican (darkened patches of skin)
    • Schizophrenia

The earlier you are diagnosed, the sooner you can take action to stay well – now and in the future!