Diabetes basics

Learn the basics of diabetes and injection

If you are new to living with diabetes, you probably have a lot of questions about what it means for your health and what your treatment options are. We have collected the following information from some trusted resources to help get you started.

Diabetes 101

The body uses sugar for energy, and a hormone called insulin helps balance your blood sugar. Diabetes is a disease that causes your blood sugar levels to be higher than normal.

In type 1 diabetes, your pancreas (which is near your stomach) cannot make any insulin at all to keep your blood sugar in balance. In type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well enough to keep your blood sugar in balance.1

Learn more on the basics of diabetes from Diabetes Canada

Blood sugar testing

How often you check your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter is something you’ll decide with your diabetes care team.

Regular monitoring can also help you avoid complications like hypoglycemia (i.e., low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (i.e., high blood sugar).2

Learn more on the benefits of checking your blood sugar from Diabetes Canada

The ups and downs of "hypers" and "hypos"

Hyperglycemia, is when your blood sugar is too high. It can happen if you have not injected enough insulin to balance your food and exercise, or if you are sick or under stress. Untreated hyperglycemia can cause serious consequences over time if it is not controlled.3

Learn more about hyperglycemia from Diabetes Canada

Hypoglycemia, or just "hypo," is when your blood sugar is too low. It can happen if you have injected too much insulin to balance your food and exercise, or if you have not eaten enough. Hypo events can be dangerous, and you should talk to your healthcare team about creating a plan to deal with them.4

Learn more about hypoglycemia from Diabetes Canada

Your blood sugar target

Achieving your blood sugar target, as determined by your healthcare team, is a critical part of living a healthy life with diabetes. It can prevent many serious diabetes-related complications and even extend your life.

Getting there can be difficult for some people, but it is possible by making healthy food choices, staying active, checking your blood sugar and following your treatment plan.1

Learn more about blood glucose control from Diabetes Canada

Insulin injection

Insulin is a natural hormone in your body made by your pancreas. Injecting insulin to balance your blood sugar level is one way to manage diabetes.

Many different types of insulin are available. They are made differently, and they work differently in your body, so you and your healthcare team will need to find the ones that work best for you.6

Learn more about insulin from Diabetes Canada

GLP-1 injection

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists are injectable medications that cause your pancreas to produce more insulin and your liver to release less sugar into you and slows down how quickly sugar is absorbed after eating. This process, in turn, helps lower your blood sugar.

A few different types of GLP-1 are available. They can be taken either daily or weekly with a pen injector, and they produce different side effects than insulin. You and your healthcare team can find the one that works best for you.7

Learn more about GLP-1s from Diabetes Canada

Oral medications

If changes to your lifestyle—like a diet and exercise plan—have not brought your blood sugar close enough to your target, a common next step in diabetes treatment to bring your blood sugar down is oral medications.

Many different types of oral medications are available, so you and your healthcare team can find the ones that work best for you.8

Learn more about oral diabetes medications from Diabetes Canada:7

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  1. Diabetes Canada. Types of diabetes. Diabetes Canada Web site. http://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/types-of-diabetes. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  2. Diabetes Canada. Managing your blood sugar. Diabetes Canada Web site. http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/blood-glucose-insulin/managing-your-blood-sugar. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  3. Diabetes Canada. Lows & highs: blood sugar levels. Diabetes Canada Web site. http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/blood-glucose-insulin/lows-highs-blood-sugar-levels . Accessed May 29, 2017.
  4. Diabetes Canada. Getting started with insulin. Diabetes Canada Web site. http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/blood-sugar-insulin/getting-started-with-insulin. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  5. American Diabetes Association. Other injectable medications. American Diabetes Association Web site. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/other-injectable-medications.html. Accessed February 1, 2017.
  6. American Diabetes Association. Oral medications. American Diabetes Association Web site. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/oral-medications/. Accessed February 1, 2017.
  7. Diabetes Canada. Patient resources. Diabetes Canada Web site. http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/patientresources. Accessed June 29, 2017.