Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot properly use the food energy it consumes. Food, when eaten, gets broken down into a form of sugar called glucose. Glucose enters the bloodstream and goes to the surrounding cells where it is used as energy.

Insulin is a hormone that ensures the body's energy needs are met. When the body doesn't make enough insulin, or doesn't properly use its insulin, diabetes can develop. Glucose builds up in the bloodstream and can lead to serious health problems such as blindness, heart disease, kidney problems, amputation, nerve damage and erectile dysfunction.

There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Approximately 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

The remaining 90 per cent have type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed.

A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, is a temporary condition that can develop during pregnancy.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious conditions but people with the disease can do many things to stay well, including following a healthy meal plan and being physically active, and carefully monitoring and controlling their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In fact, some people with type 2 diabetes are able to successfully manage their condition through lifestyle changes alone.

If medication or insulin is required, there is good news on that front as well, as medical research has made numerous advances in the treatment of diabetes. Your health care team can help develop a treatment regimen that is right for you.

For any further specific healthcare related inquiries, please consult your healthcare professional.

  1. Source: Papadakis MA, McPhee SJ, Rabow MW. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment. 54th ed. Lange; 2015.