Living with Diabetes
Access resources, support and
information to help you manage your diabetes.
Living a Healthy Life with Diabetes
The more you know about diabetes, the better you can both manage and live with it. At MediSure Canada, we aim to help you live the healthiest lifestyle possible through education, support and resources within your local community.
Find Diabetes Education Centre
The first step is to get help from medical professionals who can provide you with information and resources to get started. Larger communities often have diabetes education centres found locally. Your provincial or territorial government may make consultations with a Certified Diabetes Educator to make their services available to you via your family physician.
Click here to get started with a list of Diabetes Education Centres and Resources.
Get Connected with Others Living with Diabetes
There are numerous online communities that provide and share information to help people live healthy lives with diabetes. You can login, access the information and even share your challenges with others in the diabetes community. Knowing that you are not alone can make a world of difference.
Online communities you may benefit from include:
Read a Good Book
There are many books that can help you live a healthy lifestyle and better manage your diabetes. For example, the book “Living with Diabetes” is an excellent resource, especially for those who may not have access to information online.
To find the right book for you, take a look at The Top 15 Most Popular Diabetes Books, ranked by Amazon Canada.
Read Articles from the Canadian Diabetes Association
The Canadian Diabetes Association is a great resource for information about living with and managing diabetes. You can learn more about the different types of diabetes, how to live a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise, lifestyle changes, and much more through the many resources on their website.
More on Diabetes
The rate of diabetes in Canada is on the rise due to three major factors:
- An aging population — diabetes is more prevalent in older adults
- Heredity —more children are now born predisposed to diabetes
- Obesity — the rates are rising, leading to a higher incidence of diabetes
Our team at MediSure Canada wants to help you to become more educated about your diabetes. We aim to provide you with access to information about what you can do to self manage and what community resources are available to help you.
Type 2 Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in Canada. Not only that, but it is also preventable. By helping you to become educated, we want to help you with the prevention and control of diabetes.
Talk With Other Patients
You may find it helpful to communicate with other MediSure customers. Get access to information and advice, or simply discuss issues that matter to you most in our forums.
Frequently Asked Questions
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies.
When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
People who think they might have diabetes must visit a physician for diagnosis. They might have SOME or NONE of the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Sudden vision changes
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Feeling very tired much of the time
- Very dry skin
- Sores that are slow to heal
- More infections than usual.
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains may accompany some of these symptoms in the abrupt onset of insulin-dependent diabetes, now called type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes, which was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes, may account for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes, may account for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies. Gestational diabetes develops in 2% to 5% of all pregnancies but usually disappears when a pregnancy is over.
Other specific types of diabetes resulting from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses may account for 1% to 2% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.
Risk factors are less well defined for type 1 diabetes than for type 2 diabetes, but autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved in developing this type of diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently in African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and people with a family history of diabetes than in other groups. Obesity is also associated with higher risk. Women who have had gestational diabetes are at increased risk for later developing type 2 diabetes.
In some studies, nearly 40% of women with a history of gestational diabetes developed diabetes in the future. Other specific types of diabetes, which may account for 1% to 2% of all diagnosed cases, result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses.
The causes of type 1 diabetes appear to be much different than those for type 2 diabetes, though the exact mechanisms for developing both diseases are unknown. The appearance of type 1 diabetes is suspected to follow exposure to an “environmental trigger,” such as an unidentified virus, stimulating an immune attack against the beta cells of the pancreas (that produce insulin) in some genetically predisposed people.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of early death among people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to have heart disease or experience a stroke. At least 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. About 70% of people with diabetes also have high blood pressure.
People with type 2 diabetes have high rates of cholesterol and triglyceride abnormalities, obesity, and high blood pressure, all of which are major contributors to higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Many people with diabetes have several of these conditions at the same time. This combination of problems is often called metabolic syndrome (formerly known as Syndrome X).
The metabolic syndrome is often defined as the presence of any three of the following conditions:
- excess weight around the waist;
- high levels of triglycerides;
- low levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol;
- high blood pressure; and
- high fasting blood glucose levels.
If you have one or more of these conditions, you are at an increased risk for having one or more of the others. The more conditions that you have, the greater the risk to your health.
Physical activity can help you control your blood glucose, weight, and blood pressure, as well as raise your “good” cholesterol and lower your “bad” cholesterol. It can also help prevent heart and blood flow problems, reducing your risk of heart disease and nerve damage, which are often problems for people with diabetes.
Experts recommend moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week.. Some examples of moderate-intensity physical activity are walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming, or bicycling.
If you are not accustomed to physical activity, you may want to start with a little exercise, and work your way up.
As you become stronger, you can add a few extra minutes to your physical activity. Do some physical activity every day.
It’s better to walk 10 or 20 minutes each day than one hour once a week.
Talk to your health care provider about a safe exercise plan. He or she may check your heart and your feet to be sure you have no special problems.
If you have high blood pressure, eye, or foot problems, you may need to avoid some kinds of exercise.
Walking vigorously, hiking, climbing stairs, swimming, aerobics, dancing, bicycling, skating, skiing, tennis, basketball, volleyball, or other sports are just some examples of physical activity that will work your large muscles, increase your heart rate, and make you breathe harder – important goals for fitness.
In addition, strength training exercises with hand weights, elastic bands, or weight machines can help you build muscle. Stretching helps to make you flexible and prevent soreness after other types of exercise. Do physical activities you really like. The more fun you have, the more likely you will do it each day. It can be helpful to exercise with a family member or friend.