Being diagnosed with diabetes may result in feelings of anger, fear, denial, sadness or guilt & you may find you have a hard time accepting this new diagnosis. This is completely normal & there are many people available to help you navigate your new way of living. Remember, you are not alone! Talk to others who have diabetes or your health care team for support & guidance.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body does not use insulin properly and/or the body does not make enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which helps to move sugar (glucose) out of blood into the cells of our body to help fuel our day-to-day activities. If insulin is not being used properly or not enough is being produced, blood sugars become too high which may cause complications.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Symptoms of diabetes vary from person to person. Some people experience symptoms right away & others may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms may include:
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight changes (weight gain or weight loss)
- Blurred vision
- Frequent or recurring infections
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
Types of Diabetes
Prediabetes – refers to blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is an indication that your body is starting to have difficulty processing the sugar in your blood. It is diagnosed when fasting blood sugars are over 6.0mmol/L but under 7.0mmol/L.
Click Here for the Prediabetes Manual
Type 1 Diabetes – a chronic condition in which the body produces very little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes needs to be treated with insulin injections. It is most commonly diagnosed in young children but can occur at any age. The cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown but it is believed that type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that make insulin.
Click here for the Type 1 Diabetes Manual.
Type 2 Diabetes – this is the most common type of diabetes & is most commonly diagnosed in older adults but can occur at any age. It is a condition in which your body is struggling to produce enough insulin or your body is having difficulties using the insulin that it makes. Insulin is a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels. It is diagnosed when fasting blood sugars are greater than 7.0mmol/L. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition meaning it may become more difficult to control your blood sugars as time goes by (i.e. the longer you have it).
Click Here for the Type 2 Diabetes Manual.
Gestational Diabetes – a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy because hormones made by the placenta cause insulin to be sluggish. Uncontrolled high blood sugars during pregnancy can affect the unborn baby if not treated. Gestational diabetes often goes away once the baby is born.
Click Here for the Gestational Diabetes Manual.
How do I treat/manage my diabetes?
There are 3 ways to treat/manage diabetes:
• Following a healthy, balanced diet
• Daily physical activity – 30 minutes per day is the current recommendations
• Taking medications as prescribed
Do I need to test my blood sugars & how often?
The number of times you have to test your blood sugars is different for everyone. It depends on the type of diabetes you have, the medications that you take, your food intake & physical activity levels. Ask your diabetes team for more information.
What is Hgb A1c & how often does it need to be tested?
Glycosylated Hemoglobin or Hgb A1c is a blood test done in the laboratory every 3-6 months. This blood test measures your average blood sugars (as a percentage) over the last 3 months. This test is NOT the same as if you were to test your blood sugars using a glucometer.
I’ve just started taking insulin. Does this mean I now have type 1 diabetes?
Just because you have started to take insulin does NOT mean you now have type 1 diabetes. If you have previously been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes & now have to take insulin it means you have type 2 diabetes requiring insulin.
Will I still be able to drive?
Yes. You will however, be asked some questions when you go to renew your driver’s license & your physician may ask you to complete a medical form if you are taking insulin. If you take insulin, you will need to test your blood sugars more often while driving to make sure your blood sugars are not too low.
Click Here to view the “5 to Drive” guidelines.