November is the month of diabetes awareness. Here’s what you need to know about this ever-expanding disease.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a complex disease that has many causes and no known cure. It is defined by abnormal levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which can lead to severe complications like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and even amputation, usually a foot or a leg. Diabetes is a global problem, and, in Canada, the impact is felt in all communities. If you do not have diabetes, there is a good chance that someone has it in your family or in your circle of friends. At present, more than nine million Canadians, or one in four, are living with diabetes or prediabetes; this figure is expected to rise to one in three in 2020. Canadians must learn about the three different types of this disease, whether they are at risk or not.

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Diabetes Facts: Type 1 Diabetes

About 10% of sufferers have type 1 diabetes. Although the cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, it is considered that people with a family history of diabetes are at a higher risk of developing the disease. It usually begins in childhood and occurs when the body can not produce insulin. Sufferers need insulin treatment, which administered by an injection pen, a syringe, or a pump. The number of injections of insulin needed per day, as well as the timing and dosage, vary.

People with type 1 diabetes should keep their blood glucose levels within the target range. To measure these values, they can use a portable meter that usually works by pricking the fingertip to draw a drop of blood. Until we find a cure for type 1 diabetes, this ritual will last a lifetime. There is a false conception that diabetes caused by overconsumption of sugar or is the result of poor diet or loss of physical activity. While it is true that a healthy and physical activity can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in the case of type 1 diabetes, there is no means of prevention.

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Diabetes Facts: Type 2 Diabetes

It is the most common type among Canadians. About 90% of victims are affected by type 2, which occurs when the pancreas does not work correctly or produce enough insulin. Consequently, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in adulthood, even if diagnosed with an increasing number of children and adolescents in high-risk populations, such as Africans, Asians, Hispanics, or Native from South Asia). The complications are the same for both types of diabetes.

Affected individuals may be prescribed diabetes medications, including insulin. These people may also need to monitor their blood glucose levels. The number of times required to test these levels varies among individuals. You may have heard the term “prediabetes.” It occurs when the glucose levels in the blood of a person are high, but not enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Approximately 50% of people with prediabetes will develop one day to type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is not just a disease caused by lifestyle. Other risk factors such as age (40 and older), family history, ethnicity, and other health problems also increase the risk of developing this type of diabetes. While a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for everyone, it is especially crucial for people who are at high risk because of genetic or hereditary factors. To reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, we must change habits: eat more fruits and vegetables as well as grains to whole grains, limit portion sizes, and increases physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.

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Diabetes Facts: Gestational diabetes

This is the third type of diabetes. It is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. Blood glucose levels usually return to normal after delivery, but the mother and child are more at risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.

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Diabetes Facts: there is a hope

Although diabetes types 1 and 2 cause serious complications, there is hope, because people with the disease can do a lot to stay healthy. Management strategies include working with a health care team, having a healthy diet, being active, and learn as much as possible about the disease. With good care and proper management, diabetes can lead an active life, independent and dynamic.