Diabetes mellitus is a descriptive term for a family of metabolic disorders that are characterized by chronic hyperglycemia and the development of long-term complications, which affect a person’s:
- Large blood vessels (e.g., accelerated atherosclerosis);
- Small blood vessels (e.g., nephropathy and retinopathy); and
- Nervous system (e.g., neuropathies)
There are more than 40 different types of diabetes overall. Excluding gestational diabetes, however, the most common forms of diabetes are type 1 (~10 percent of all cases) and type 2 diabetes (~90 percent of all cases). Other specific types of diabetes may account for ~3 percent or more of all cases of diabetes.
Below you will find some general information about diabetes. Please visit the tabs to the left to find more information and resources that are available. If you have specific questions related to your plan of care, you should contact your care provider.
Monitoring Your Blood Sugar
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Syringe & Lancet Disposal
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From its causes to how it can be best managed, there are lots of myths about diabetes. Here are some of the most common:
- People with diabetes cannot have sugar: Contrary to popular belief, having diabetes doesn’t mean having to have a sugar-free diet. People with diabetes should follow a healthy balanced diet low in fat, salt and sugar, but they should still be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including some with sugar.
- Eating lots of sugar increases risk of diabetes: Actually, having lots of sugar has no direct effect on your risk of diabetes. Having lots of sugar can, though, lead to weight gain and this in turn increases risk of type 2 diabetes.
- People with diabetes should eat ‘diabetic’ foods: ‘Diabetic’ labeling tends to be used on sweets, chocolate, biscuits and similar foods that are generally high-calorie and often have lots of saturated fats. If people want to treat themselves occasionally then they should go for the real thing.
- Type 2 diabetes is a mild form of diabetes: This is wrong. There is no such thing as mild diabetes. All diabetes is serious and if not properly controlled it can lead to serious complications such as amputation, kidney failure, blindness and stroke.
- People with diabetes can’t play sports: People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle and keeping active can help reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease. Steve Redgrave, Olympic gold medal-winning rower, is an example of someone who has achieved great sporting achievements while living with diabetes.
- It’s not safe to drive if you have diabetes: If people with diabetes are responsible and have good control of their blood glucose levels, they are no less safe on the roads than anyone else. Nevertheless, the myth persists that people with diabetes are unsafe to drive.