In light of the month of November being Diabetes Awareness Month, Vancouver family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, shares information on the different types of diabetes, how you can prevent it, and the important lifestyle changes that you should make if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.
More than three million Canadians have diabetes. Approximately ten percent of those account for Type I diabetes, while the other ninety percent of individuals have Type II diabetes – which is the more common form.
While some individuals with diabetes may show no symptoms at all, some of the most common signs and symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight gain or weight loss, extreme fatigue, frequent infections, wounds that are slow to heal (i.e. cuts, bruises), blurred vision, and a sensation of tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet.
Type I diabetes generally affects children and adolescents, and occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce its own insulin. Type II diabetes, as mentioned, is the more common type of diabetes to be diagnosed with, and tends to affect mostly adults. It occurs when the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin and/or when the body cannot use the insulin it produces effectively.
While a diabetes diagnosis is certainly not a death sentence by any means, it can become a life-threatening condition if left untreated, unmanaged, or if you do not take the steps necessary to live a healthy life. Complications that can arise as a result of leaving diabetes unmanaged and/or untreated as well as living a lifestyle that is unhealthy include heart disease, kidney disease, eye problems, and even nerve damage. You also have an increased risk of developing diabetes if you are over the age of 40, are overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and have a family member with diabetes.
When it comes to diabetes, the first step is prevention. Getting regular physical activity – whether it’s going for short 30 minute walks, doing yoga from the comfort of your own home, or working out at the gym, as well as ensuring you’re eating healthy and reducing your intake of sugar and carbohydrates – can significantly reduce your risk of getting diabetes. Along with preventing diabetes, healthy eating and exercise, together, have many other health benefits and will provide you with an improved quality of life overall.