Diabetes is a disease caused by the body’s inability to produce or correctly use insulin, a hormone needed by the body to process energy provided by food and used in cells and tissues. When insulin is not available to process this energy from food, high levels of glucose (sugar) build up in the blood, which causes damage over the long term. There are several types of diabetes, but the two most common are called “type 1 diabetes” and “type 2 diabetes.”
Previously called “juvenile diabetes” and often diagnosed in childhood (but not necessarily), this type of diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin.
There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Generally, this type of diabetes develops after the age of 10. A balanced diet and regular physical activity can help prevent type 2 diabetes, often related to an unhealthy lifestyle (e.g., being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise). Recently, an increase in the number of people suffering from this type of diabetes has been observed, particularly in younger people.
Often people have diabetes and don’t know it. This is why it is so important to have yearly check-ups with your health care professional, where you can be tested for diabetes and other diseases that could predispose you to developing diabetes (e.g., pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome).
Symptoms to watch for:
Diabetes that is not well controlled (when blood sugar levels are often high) can increase the risk of developing other conditions such as:
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the development or progression of some of these health problems.
Unfortunately, diabetes cannot be cured at this point in time. The only existing treatment is to maintain an optimal blood glucose level and prevent complications brought on by diabetes.
Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you can reduce your risk of developing complications by paying close attention to your overall health and carefully monitoring your condition. Some helpful strategies include:
The mission of Diabetes Québec, which has existed for more than 50 years, is to inform about, raise awareness of, promote the prevention of diabetes, fund research, provide services to and defend the rights of people with diabetes.
It offers information sessions and answers, via it’s telephone line InfoDiabète, via thousands of calls from people who need information or help. Plein Soleil, is Diabetes Québec’s quarterly review that is a great information tool about the disease, its impact and how to approach treatment, both for the person who is affected and their loved ones. The organisation also has a website, which is considered a reference in the French-speaking world, that provides information for the public. Its educational service Diabétaide educates both diabetics and health care professionals who take care of them and is supported by a solid network of affiliated associations across Québec.
Accès Pharma offers a diabetes-testing clinic by health care professionals. Talk to them about the disease so you can get educated about it and its’ treatment. You can also get information about diet, exercise and medication.
To download the PDF brochure, click here.