Diabetes, a disease that is on the rise and still unknown to the vast majority of the population, is not to be taken lightly. Very present in Quebec, only about 880,000 people in the province live with the disease to varying degrees, or 10% of Quebecers of all ages. However, out of this number, nearly 250,000 people are unaware that they have diabetes. Diabetes Québec even mentions that if all diabetic people were grouped together in one single country, it would be considered the 3rd largest country in the world.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by the absence or insufficient production of insulin, or an inability of the body to properly use this hormone. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and enables glucose (sugar) to be used as an energy source for the cells in our body. When insulin does not perform its function properly, glucose can then not be used as fuel for the cells, so it builds up in the blood and causes an increase in sugar levels called hyperglycemia. There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be treated and controlled without too many problems. The disease doesn’t become apparent in the same way for everyone, nor with the same intensity or with the same symptoms. In fact, it is common for the symptoms to go unnoticed for a number of years.
Each diabetic person has different symptoms, just as there are different types of diabetes: prediabetes, Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and other rarer types. In cases of hyperglycemia, the most common symptoms are:
- Fatigue, drowsiness
- Increase in urine volume and frequency
- Intense thirst
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Exaggerated hunger
There may be no symptoms that are warning you, so it’s important to talk to a doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Although many complications can result from careless behaviour, properly monitored and controlled diabetes will not cause any damage to the body or too much discomfort for the individual. On the other hand, poor control of blood glucose levels can lead to the onset of complications; however, several factors such as age, heredity, duration of diabetes and lifestyle habits can also play a role. If diabetes is not recognized or treated, much more serious problems can occur in various organs, such as:
- the kidneys (kidney disease)
- the eyes (retinopathy)
- the neurological system (neuropathy)
- the heart (infarction)
- the blood vessels (hypertension, arteriosclerosis, stroke, etc.)
Diabetes is also often related to other complications, such as:
- sleep apnea
- erectile dysfunction
- yeast infections
- urinary tract infections
In short, as with any other chronic disease, it is important to monitor your general condition and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to avoid unnecessary complications. L’Entraide diabétique du Québec was founded to support and raise funds to finance the activities of Diabetes Québec, which is there to support, defend the rights of, and provide services to diabetics as well as to promote diabetes awareness and training among health professionals.
Source: Diabetes Québec
To learn more about diabetes, visit the Diabetes Québec website.