Have a question about diabetes? Get quick answers to the most frequently asked questions.

If your question is not answered below, please feel free to call us at 1-800-BANTING (226-8464) or email us at info@diabetes.ca.

  1. I have just been recently diagnosed, what should I do?

Whether you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can live a long and healthy life by eating healthy, being physically active, and taking medications (if prescribed) to keep your blood glucose (sugar) in your target range. Read about Treatments & Management and learn more in our Healthy Living Resources. Online tools are also available from Taking Charge of My Diabetes.

Visiting a diabetes education center (DEC) is a great way to learn more about diabetes and how to manage your blood sugar. To find a DEC near you, contact Diabetes Canada by calling toll-free at 1-800-BANTING (226-8464) or email info@diabetes.ca.

  1. How is diabetes diagnosed?

Diabetes can be diagnosed with different blood tests taken at a lab. Many people have no symptoms of diabetes. If you are over the age of 40 or are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, you should have you blood sugar checked. For information on the signs and symptoms and the lab values that indicate diabetes, visit Signs & Symptoms.

  1. What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and their causes?

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disease which affects the person’s ability to make any insulin. People with type 2 diabetes do make insulin but it may not be enough, or their bodies cannot use the insulin that is made. There is no known cause for type 1 diabetes, but some things can increase a person’s risk for type 2. To find out about your risk for type 2 diabetes, take the online CANRISK test.

For more information, visit Types of Diabetes and learn the risk factors at Are You at Risk?

  1. I have diabetes. What should my target blood glucose (sugar) level be?

Keeping your blood sugar in target will lower your risk of developing complications of diabetes. Target levels will depend on the person and their situation. Your health-care team will help you determine your own targets for blood sugar levels. For more information, visit Managing Your Blood Glucose.

  1. How should hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) be treated?

People with diabetes get hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when their bodies don't have enough sugar to use as energy. Each person may have different symptoms. Learn to recognize yours. Low blood glucose can be very dangerous and should be treated right away.  For more information on the symptoms of hypoglycemia and how to treat it, visit Lows & Highs: Blood Glucose Levels.

  1. Does eating a lot of sugar cause diabetes?

Eating a lot of sugar does not directly cause diabetes, but it can lead to weight gain. Being overweight is one of the risk factors that can cause type 2 diabetes. Learn about the other risk factors at Are You at Risk?

  1. Are artificial sweeteners safe?

Each artificial sweetener available in Canada has an ADI, or acceptable daily intake level. Artificial sweeteners are safe if you drink/eat less than this amount. Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should avoid certain artificial sweeteners. For more information, visit Sugars & Sweeteners.

  1. What’s the difference between carbohydrates and sugar?

Carbohydrates are the types of foods that break down into glucose (sugar) in your blood. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that turns into glucose very quickly in the body. Carbohydrates are an important part of healthy eating, but because they will affect your blood sugar levels, the amounts and types that you eat matter.

  1. How much physical activity do I have to do?

Physical activity is a great way to help manage your diabetes. You can start with as little as five to ten minutes per day and gradually build toward Diabetes Canada's recommendations for physical activity. For more information, visit Physical Activity & Diabetes.

  1. Why is foot care so important when people have diabetes?

Diabetes may cause nerve damage or decreased blood flow which can affect your feet in different ways. Checking your feet every day is one way to avoid foot problems. For more information, visit Foot Care.

  1. I know that diabetes education is important. What is it and how do I access it?

Diabetes educators can help you and your family understand and manage your diabetes. They are an integral part of the health-care team for a person living with diabetes. They can help you understand your condition and provide helpful tools. With their help, you can develop the skills and confidence to manage your diabetes and live a healthy life.

To find a diabetes educator or diabetes education centre near you, call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464) or email info@diabetes.ca.

  1. My doctor just put me on insulin. Does this mean I have poor diabetes control/poor health?

Many people with diabetes will eventually need insulin because it is a progressive disease. This means that over time your body may need extra help to meet targets and prevent or delay complications. There are many different types of insulin and your diabetes care team will help you figure out the best one for you. To learn more visit Thinking of Starting Insulin and Getting Started with Insulin.

  1. Is diabetes reversible?

Most people with diabetes will have it for the rest of their life or until there is a cure. Even if diabetes cannot be reversed, it can definitely be managed to prevent or delay complications. You can do this by keeping your blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure and cholesterol in target. Physical activity and nutrition are great ways of meeting these targets. Medication can also help.

Learn more about Staying Healthy with Diabetes and the ABCDEs to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

  1. How can I receive financial assistance for my diabetes medications and supplies?

Your diabetes medications and supplies may be covered by the health-care program in your province or territory. For more information on the types of programs offered in your area and whether you qualify, please visit Financial Assistance & Your Rights.

  1. Do you have any information you can send me?

Diabetes Canada would be happy to send you an information package with resources on a number of topics. To order a free information package, please Request a Diabetes Information Kit.