November is Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada. With close to 1.5 million Canadians currently living with diabetes or prediabetes, there is a need for greater awareness about the disease and its risk factors, signs and symptoms.
According to Diabetes Canada, among Canadians:
It has also been observed that:
If you are over the age of 40, the Canadian Diabetes Association recommends you get checked every three years.
As defined by Diabetes Canada: "Diabetes is a disease in which your body either can't produce insulin or can't properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. Insulin's role is to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar must be carefully regulated to ensure that the body functions properly. Too much blood sugar can cause damage to organs, blood vessels, and nerves. Your body also needs insulin in order to use sugar for energy."
People can reduce their chances of getting diabetes by understanding the risk factors associated with the disease and getting tested regularly.
Currently, the only proven risk factor for type 1 diabetes to date is having a parent or sibling with the disease. Studies are underway to determine if other genetic or environmental factors could also have an impact.
For type 2 diabetes, the risk factors are as follows:
To learn more about your risk factors for this disease, the Public Health Agency of Canada offers a test to determine if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
The risk factors for gestational diabetes are:
There are many symptoms that could indicate diabetes. The most common symptoms include:
Most of these symptoms are common to all types of diabetes. Signs and symptoms in children are similar. Be on the lookout for a lack of energy, excessive drinking, and more frequent urination; younger children may start to wet the bed again. It’s important to note that many people live with type 2 diabetes and do not display the common symptoms of the disease.
If you or any of your family members have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
Most provincial health care systems do not cover all the costs of medications or supplies for diabetics. To find out the terms and conditions for coverage of medication or supplies for blood glucose testing, you may refer to the website of the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).
If you or a family member were recently diagnosed with diabetes, it is vital to get proper care. If you have an individual health insurance plan, it can help offset certain treatment and medical costs – such as some medication or supplies – that are not covered by provincial health care plans.
You can help the cause of diabetes by supporting Canadian non-profit organizations working to provide support to people with diabetes or prediabetes and to advance diabetes research.
Disclaimer: Québec Blue Cross® is providing this blog for informational purposes only. References to any third-party products, services or professional associations do not constitute their endorsement or recommendation by Québec Blue Cross.
Article updated November 13, 2020.