We are now full-speed into Autumn. Falling leaves, windy days, chilly rain, and spooky Halloween. Another part of November, according to Health Canada, is Diabetes Awareness Month. In Canada, about 11 million people are currently living with diabetes, or are pre-diabetic. This is a HUGE number, as our population in Canada is currently 36 million.
Like many people, I have, self-admittedly, a desperately lacking knowledge about diabetes. Sure, I know about the very basics just from hearing about friends and co-workers who have the condition, but I’ve never actually taken the time to find out more. In other words, I think I need to be more aware. And what better time is there to learn about diabetes than right now, at the beginning of Diabetes awareness month?
The basics. One of the first things that we learn about diabetes is that there are 2 types, which are aptly named type 1 diabetes, and…. type 2 diabetes. The key factor at play in both types of diabetes is how the human body interacts (or doesn’t) with insulin. What does insulin do? Insulin is hormone our body must have in order to process the foods we eat, that is, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In short, insulin is vital to survival and without medical intervention, diabetes is fatal. The next question is, what is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes? Just keep reading.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when, for reasons unknown as of yet to medical science, the body’s immune system acts up in a strange way. The very same immune system that’s supposed to be keeping us safe from many viruses and bacteria begins to attack beta cells in our pancreas. Beta cells are the cells in which insulin is produced. No beta cells, no insulin. Type 1 diabetes occurs randomly, but generally in children, which is why it’s also referred to as juvenile onset diabetes. It can also, rarely, occur in adults. The primary treatment for type 1 diabetes is to receive regular insulin injections, among along with regular exercise and keeping a healthy, diabetic diet.
Type 2 diabetes is different in that the causes are known. What causes type 2 diabetes? It is largely attributed to diet and lifestyle – the kind of diet and lifestyle which causes obesity. This is both good and bad news. The bad news is that anyone could be at risk for developing diabetes. The good news, however, is that with a healthy diet and active lifestyle you can nearly eliminate your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The treatment for type 2 diabetes, in the early stages, is to live an active lifestyle, and to eat a healthy, diabetic diet. If it progresses further, insulin injections will also be needed.
There is also a third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes. This one came as a surprise to me, but apparently, women who are pregnant are also at risk of developing gestational diabetes. Some contributing factors include lifestyle, weight, and family history of diabetes. Gestational diabetes is generally treatable with lifestyle and diet management, although similar to type 2 diabetes, insulin treatment may be needed if it becomes severe.
From the research I’ve done into these sources, it’s evident that in all types of diabetes we see a common theme: the need for insulin therapy. Now did you know, that in Canada, people who have medical expenses are able to claim them on their taxes in order to get tax credits, and people who receive life-sustaining therapy, can also qualify for additional benefits. Notice how I had previously just mentioned that many people who have diabetes require insulin therapy? This means that people who have diabetes may be eligible to receive additional government benefits.
If you, or a family member, or a friend has diabetes, you may be able to qualify for these government benefits. You will need specific forms that can be found from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You’ll also be able to find the information you need on this website. If you have any questions, I’d love to help you answer them, and our team would be happy to be an advocate for you in order to help qualify for the government tax credits and tax benefits you deserve.
Otherwise, I hope that like me, you’ve learned a bit more about diabetes, its causes, and its treatment. Diabetes is an incredibly complex and pervasive occurrence not just in Canada, but around the world. With the lifestyle we are leading these days, it’s no mystery why nearly 1/3 of Canadians are diabetic or pre-diabetic. By educating ourselves as much as we can, we’ll be able to prevent more Canadians from becoming diabetic.
1. Stryer, Lubert (1995). Biochemistry. (Fourth ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman and Company. pp. 773–774. ISBN 0 7167 2009 4.
2. "Causes of Diabetes". NIDDK. August 2014. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 31, July 2016.
3. Kelly, L.; Evans, L.; Messenger, D. (2005). "Controversies around gestational diabetes. Practical information for family doctors". Canadian Family Physician. 51 (5): 688–695. PMC 1472928 Freely accessible. PMID 15934273.
4. http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and- you/know-your- rights/tax-credits- your-rights