According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, there are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease, in which not enough insulin is produced or the body cannot properly use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 – The immune system mistakenly kills the beta cells of the pancreas. No, or very little, insulin is released and as a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About five to 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 – The body can’t properly use the insulin that is released or does not make enough insulin resulting in sugar build up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes more often develops in adults, but children can be affected.
Although this chronic disease has been around since the early 1900’s, there are many myths that exist on how to manage it, what causes it and how to prevent it.
Myth #1 – If you have diabetes, you can’t be physically active.
In reality, regular physical activity has a positive effect on lowering glucose. If you have diabetes, your physical fitness program should be approved by a doctor. But once you’ve gotten approval, being active is very possible and is definitely encouraged!
Myth #2 – Diabetes is caused from eating too much sugar
Actually, the cause of type 1 diabetes isn’t known but environmental factors, viruses or genetics are thought to be the culprits.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in people who are over 40 years old, overweight, and have a family history of diabetes.
Myth #3 – You aren’t managing your diabetes well if you have to take insulin.
For those with type 1 diabetes, there is no other treatment for the disease, insulin is the only option.
For those managing type 2 diabetes, initially you may not need to take insulin for your chronic disease management but over time, insulin will be introduced as it really is the best way to manage diabetes and limit complications. This is done not because the patient has failed to manage their diabetes but because it is the best option.
Can You Prevent Diabetes?
As mentioned, there is nothing you can do to prevent type 1 diabetes. However, many people will be diagnosed as having pre-diabetes which is the precursor to type 2 diabetes. With weight management and an exercise program, you may be able to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, be sure to visit your doctor:
- Experiencing extreme thirst
- Losing weight without trying
- Cuts that heal slowly
- Dry, itchy skin
- Pins and needles in your feet
- Losing feeling in your feet
- Blurry eyesight
People who need to undertake chronic disease management may require ongoing support. If your elderly loved one could benefit from home healthcare, a live in caregiver or long term care to help them manage their diabetes, iCare Home Health can provide individualized care plan options and peace of mind. Supporting families in Mississauga, Milton, Oakville and Burlington, we invite you to contact us at (905) 491-6941 to find out how we can help.