Kingston Family Health Team

Increase Font Size A A

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. The body needs insulin to use glucose as an enery source. Diabetes leads to high levels of glucose in the blood, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves.

There are two different types of diabetes, Type 1 (insulin-dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin dependent).

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas. No, or very little, insulin is released into the body. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1. Type 1 diabetes generally develops in childhood or adolescence, but can develop in adulthood. Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Meal planning also helps with keeping blood glucose at the right levels.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t properly use the insulin that is released or does not make enough insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2. Type 2 diabetes more often develops in adults, but children can be affected. Depending on the severity of type 2 diabetes, it may be managed through physical activity and meal planning, or may also require medications and/or insulin to control blood glucose more effectively.

For more information please visit the Diabetes Canada website at http://www.diabetes.ca/.