Archived health tips
Understanding and treating diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that disrupts the body’s production of insulin or,
in other cases, prevents it from using the insulin properly. But what is insulin?
It is a pancreatic hormone that plays a vital role in converting into energy the
glucose (sugar) contained in the food we eat.
Types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (Juvenile diabetes)
Type 1 diabetes represents approximately 10 percent of cases. It occurs when the
pancreas produces very little insulin or none at all. When this happens, an external
dose of insulin is needed to stabilize the person’s blood glucose levels. Type 1
diabetes is generally diagnosed by age 30. Researchers think it may be an inherited
disease, but at this point, they still do not know its exact cause.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes represents about 90 percent of cases. With this type, the pancreas
does produce insulin in sufficient amounts, but the body is unable to use it efficiently.
In some instances, however, an insufficient production of insulin may be involved.
Type 2 diabetes often develops after age 40. People with excess weight are also
more at risk for it.
Age and weight are only two of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Others include:
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Genetics and belonging to an at-risk ethnic group (Native, Latin American, Asian
- Higher than normal blood pressure or cholesterol levels
Pregnancy (gestational) diabetes
Pregnancy diabetes is a temporary disorder that usually resolves after childbirth.
It occurs in 2 to 4 percent of pregnancies and can increase a woman’s risk of developing
type 2 diabetes later in life.
Symptoms of diabetes
The most common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are essentially the same:
- Drowsiness, fatigue
- Slow wound healing
- Intense thirst and hunger
- Needing to urinate frequently
- Tingling of the feet or hands
- Itchy skin
- Infection of the genitals
- Blurred vision
In a number of cases, symptoms are so subtle and mild that they go unnoticed for
If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can have serious consequences
and various complications, including:
- >Kidney failure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Strokes (cerebrovascular accidents)
- Vision problems
- Blood circulation problems
You can prevent or delay diabetes-related complications by properly managing your
blood glucose levels.
Measuring your glycemia
Glycemia is the level of glucose in your blood. A normal fasting glycemia level
should be between 4 and 6 µl/L. Glycemia is measured at home using a blood glucose
meter available at the pharmacy.
Ask your Uniprix-affiliated pharmacist to help you select the model that will best
meet your needs.
There is no cure for diabetes, but you can learn to control your glycemia, delay
the progression of the disease and prevent complications. The answer lies in a healthy
The first step toward living a full and “normal” life with diabetes is to learn
as much as you can about the disease. The more you know about diabetes, the better
you will be able to manage it.
Eating well is probably the best starting point for any offensive against diabetes.
A healthy diet helps you:
- Better manage the level of sugar and fat in your blood
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
- Better control your blood pressure
- Lower your risks for complications
Your best course of action is a balanced diet. Select foods that are low in sodium,
added sugar and fat, and increase your intake of high-fiber foods.
Exercise and weight management
Many experts agree that exercise is more beneficial than any other treatment options.
Combined with a 5 to 10 percent weight loss, moderate exercise for just 30 minutes
a day, five days a week can reduce the risk of diabetes by nearly 60 percent.
At times, a healthy diet and a good exercise program are simply not enough to maintain
your blood glucose at an acceptable level. In such instances, your doctor may prescribe
drugs to help you better control it. Each case is unique; that is why the medication
prescribed varies from one person to another.
Oral anti-diabetic drugs may not work for everyone. Insulin injections – either
to supplement or replace the oral medicine – may at times be required.
While administering insulin may be unpleasant, it is much easier than before thanks
to new devices available on the market today. Ask your pharmacist for more information.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to keep a close watch on
your blood glucose levels. Your Uniprix-affiliated pharmacy offers a host of professional
support and follow-up services to help you with this:
- Consultation for diabetes follow-up
- Medication management
- Blood glucose monitoring
- Rental program for blood glucose meters
To find a store near you, click here.