Diabetes Get Serious

May 15 2000

Diabetes Get Serious

May 15 2000

Diabetes Get Serious

Diabetes is a Serious Public Health Issue

These costs are projected to increase significantly as baby boomers age and more Canadians are diagnosed with the disease. (Being 45 or over puts you at increased risk.) It is estimated that within a decade diabetes will become an even more serious health issue as the number of Canadians with the disease is projected to jump to three million.

The federal government, along with nonprofit and private sector partners including the Canadian Diabetes Association, is taking steps to reduce the high personal and financial costs of diabetes through a five-year, $ I 15-million, diabetes strategy. Included in this strategy is a new datagathering system called the National Diabetes Surveillance System. It will give an accurate picture of the scope and magnitude of the diabetes problem for Canadians.

You really have to become a

mini-expert in order to do well, and Jennifer has really

blossomed in that way...

This information will allow more accurate tracking and monitoring of diabetes and the development of programs and services to reduce the impact this disease is having on Canadians like Jennifer, now and in the future.

Jennifer has type I diabetes, which generally first appears in childhood or young adulthood and affects about 10 per cent of Canadians with the disease. It is the kind of diabetes that requires daily insulin injections for survival.

She and her family have adjusted to life with diabetes, but many of the steps necessary to help avoid its serious compli3 cations affect everyone in the household. “Now, all of us live

with diabetes,” says Jennifer’s mother, Pat. For example, the whole family pays close attention to what and when they eat.

Thanks to the support of her health-care providers, family and friends, Jennifer has learned to manage her diabetes. Research has shown that aggressive management of diabetes is key to preventing or delaying the start of complications. Jennifer says her daily routine “is not a big deal” and has become second nature. Part of the learning process included attending summer camp, at her mother’s encouragement. It is one of more than a dozen Canadian Diabetes Association-operated camps, which offer kids a traditional summer camp experience with one exception: all the kids have diabetes. The kids learn how to manage the disease and the camps provide an opportunity for the kids to share their experiences with others who understand firsthand.

Camp Briardale’s medical adviser, Dr. Heather Dean, a children’s diabetes specialist at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg, says it is important for families like the O’Learys to take diabetes and its potential consequences seriously and learn how to properly manage the disease. Understanding the disease helps families work it into their daily lives. For example, knowing how to react to a change in blood-sugar levels can affect performance and make a difference between playing in a baseball game or sitting on the bench.

For the O’Learys, understanding diabetes has become easier over time. “You really have to become a mini-expert in order to do well, and Jennifer has really blossomed in that way,” says Pat.

What is Diabetes?

There are three kinds of diabetes. They all share some serious potential consequences.

Type ! diabetes usually first appears in childhood. “It is an autoimmune disease that destroys the pancreatic cells that make insulin,” says Dean. Insulin is essential to ensuring body energy needs are met. Approximately 10 per cent of people with diabetes have this type.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. It affects about 90 per cent of people with diabetes and usually develops in adulthood, although, recently, increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed. This type is often mistakenly referred to as “borderline diabetes” or a “touch of sugar,” however it shares the same serious complications as type I.

Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects two to four per cent of all pregnancies and involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child later in life.

Changes for the Better

Patricia lives with type 2 diabetes

Patricia Lalonde of Kingston, Ont., lives with type 2 diabetes. Before finding out she had it, Patricia thought she was losing her eyesight. “My vision was blurred and I thought I was going blind,” she says. Blurred vision was just one of the symptoms of diabetes she was experiencing. She also suffered from constant thirst and frequent urination. In addition, Patricia had hypertension, a known risk factor.

Finding out she had diabetes early allowed Patricia to make the changes necessary to avoid life-threatening complications and improve her quality of life. Patricia learned a lot about managing the disease by attending a week-long diabetes education program at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. “In just that one week, my fears were alleviated and I felt that I was on the right track,” she says.

Many people think that change is bad, but for people living with diabetes, change can save their lives.

Finding out she had diabetes early meant Patricia Lalonde could take steps to help prevent or delay complications such as heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes education centres operate in communities across the country. They work on the principle that results are best achieved when using a team approach. The person affected by diabetes is at the centre of the team which may include physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and chiropodists. The education process focuses on diet, physical activity, blood glucose monitoring and the use of medication.

However, Patricia recognizes that she has primary responsibility for her health and keeps informed about the latest diabetes information through her health-care providers and the Canadian Diabetes Association’s outreach, network, products and services.

Patricia made the necessary changes in the past to manage her diabetes and will continue to do so in the future. “I can’t know everything that is happening inside me as a result of having diabetes. So I give it my full attention and just do my very best,” she says.

Frequent urination Unusual thirst Changes in appetite Unexplained weight loss Extreme fatigue Irritability Blurry vision Tingling in hands or feet Many people who have type 2 diabetes may not display any symptoms.

Know the Risk Factors

Who is at risk? Those who;

Are age 45 or over Are overweight Are of Aboriginal, Asian, African or Hispanic descent Are related to a person with diabetes Have given birth to a large baby (over four kg or nine lbs.) and/or a history of gestational diabetes Have abnormal cholesterol Have higher than normal blood glucose levels Have high blood pressure or heart disease.

Know Who to Turn to...

Who are we?

The Canadian Diabetes Association is a charitable organization that was established almost 50 years ago and has grown to include more than 150 locations across the country.

What do we do?

The Canadian Diabetes Association plays a leading role in supporting the over two million Canadians who are directly affected by diabetes, and their loved ones, through research, education, service and advocacy.

Get Involved

To become a volunteer, make a financial donation, donate used clothing to the collection program or become a member, contact your local office, or call I-800-BANTING (1-800-226-8464). You can also visit www.diabetes.ca or e-mail info@diabetes.ca.

Research: The exact cause of diabetes is not yet known, although scientific advances yield more clues every day. The Canadian Diabetes Association is a leader in all areas of research and contributes funding to many diverse and innovative projects across the country. The findings from some of these initiatives have had a significant impact in improving the quality of life of those living with diabetes and moving us towards the ultimate goal - a cure.

Education: Diabetes requires a great deal of self-management and discipline. People with diabetes need to actively regulate not only their eating habits and medication, but also their exercise regimen and stress levels. Through its network of members, volunteers, health-care professionals, partners and staff from coast to coast, the

Find out sooner than later

The earlier you find out you have diabetes, the sooner steps can be taken to manage the disease and prevent or delay complications. A simple blood test is all that is needed. Ask your doctor to test you. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends routine screening every three years for everyone 45 or over, and screening every year for individuals with other risk factors.

Lifestyle and type 2 diabetes are closely linked. This means that creating a healthy lifestyle is one way in which individuals can prevent or delay the start of the disease. A healthy diet, weight control, exercise and reducing stress are important steps towards prevention.

Canadian Diabetes Association helps Canadians with diabetes obtain the information they need to make informed choices in their daily lives. Many helpful materials are produced by and distributed through the Association network.

A new brochure outlines the risk factors and symptoms of type 2 diabetes as well as the medical tests used to confirm its presence. Another outlines the steps people with diabetes can take to stay as healthy as possible, including the types of follow-up tests they should jhe Canadian

receive regularly from their healthDiabeLtes Association’s

membership magazine

care providers. The Canadian Diabetes Association is also Canada’s leading provider of information to physicians and health-care professionals and has developed internationally-recognized clinical practice guidelines.

Service: People with diabetes, especially when first diagnosed, often need help and support to adjust to the new reality of their lives. This can be especially true for children and teens. The Canadian Diabetes Association reaches out to all people living with diabetes, their loved ones, teachers and caregivers to provide support and advice. For example, children, teens and parents need answers to basic questions about diabetes, and teachers, child-care workers and coaches need to know basic information to ensure the safety of those under their supervision. Recently the Association, in conjunction with private partners and Health Canada, produced a resource kit on diabetes that will be sent to elementary schools across the country. It gives school personnel the latest information and aims to increase their understanding of the disease as well as their roles and responsibility, and that of parents, in providing care to children with diabetes.

Advocacy: Many people with diabetes face discrimination in the workplace and when applying for travel and life insurance, even their driver’s licence. The Canadian Diabetes Association believes that everyone should be treated fairly. That means the needs of people with diabetes need to be considered individually, not as a collective whole. To achieve this the Canadian Diabetes Association works with key decision-makers at all levels of government and with the private sector.

Know who to turn to