Diabetes is a disease in which your body either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin that it does make. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas – a gland located near your stomach. Insulin controls the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. We all need sugar to fuel our daily activities, whether it’s running, walking, or simply breathing. When insulin cannot do the job that your body needs it to, the result is too much sugar in your blood – a condition called hyperglycemia. Left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to serious health problems.
There are 3 main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. While all three types are quite different, living well with each begins with an understanding of how high and low blood sugar affects your body – and what you can do to manage it.
TYPE 1 DIABETES
Type 1 diabetes (sometimes called juvenile diabetes) can occur at any age, but it is most often seen in children and young adults. With type 1 diabetes, your body makes little or no insulin.
A management plan for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin as prescribed, eating a well balanced diet, staying physically active and testing your blood sugar levels regularly.
TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2. Type 2 diabetes usually happens as people age, but it has become more common in younger adults and children.
In type 2 diabetes, your body produces too little insulin or your cells become resistant to the insulin it does produce, so it does not do its job as well.
A treatment plan for type 2 diabetes includes eating a balanced diet, being physically active, managing stress, controlling blood pressure, taking medication as prescribed (if prescribed), and testing your blood sugar regularly.
Gestational diabetes (GD) is high blood glucose that occurs in pregnant women who have not had diabetes before. About 5% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, usually around the 24th week of pregnancy when the body produces large amounts of hormones to help the baby grow. These hormones cause insulin resistance. If the body can’t produce insulin to compensate, blood glucose levels will get too high. GD must be treated to reduce the risk of problems for both mom and baby.
Moms with GD are at increased risk for:
Women with GD are also at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life. In fact, as many as 30% of women who have had GD will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 15 years.
When a woman has GD, her baby is also at risk for health issues. Although typically not serious, these include:
Fortunately, managing blood glucose levels can help prevent some of the health risks associated with gestational diabetes. Treatment of GD includes eating a balanced diet, being physically active, managing stress, controlling blood pressure, possibly taking insulin, and testing blood sugar regularly.
UNDERSTANDING LOW AND HIGH BLOOD SUGAR
Recognizing the symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and knowing what to do should they occur is important for people living with diabetes.
HYPOGLYCEMIA OR LOW BLOOD SUGAR
Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar is too low. It is not always easy to tell if you have hypoglycemia. The best way to check is by testing your blood glucose with your CONTOUR®NEXT meter. Your blood glucose reading will usually be below 4 mmol/L and you may experience:
Sometimes there are no symptoms.
Treatment for hypoglycemia depends on how low your blood glucose is.
Hypoglycemia is usually considered mild to moderate when:
Remember: The ONLY way to know your blood glucose value is to test your blood with your blood glucose meter.
Treatment for mild to moderate hypoglycemia
Remember the 15:15 rule:
Once the hypoglycemia has been reversed, prevent repeated hypoglycemia by:
*** Always tell your healthcare team about all episodes of hypoglycemia. ***
Hypoglycemia is usually considered severe if:
Treatment for severe hypoglycemia
Severe hypoglycemia is a medical emergency.
If you are conscious:
If you are unconscious:
Tell your healthcare team as soon as possible about any episodes of severe hypoglycemia.
If hypoglycemia tends to be a recurring problem, talk to your healthcare professional. You may need your treatment adjusted, or you may need to revisit your meal plan or exercise routine.
HYPERGLYCEMIA OR HIGH BLOOD SUGAR
Hyperglycemia is the opposite of hypoglycemia. Hyperglycemia occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood. Usually, this means a fasting blood glucose reading at or above 11 mmol/L.
If your blood glucose values are too high, some possible causes might be:
Keeping track of your blood glucose values can help you and your healthcare team figure out when and why you are having hyperglycemia. Your healthcare team can help you make the changes you need to keep your blood glucose values at target.
Some common signs of hyperglycemia are:
BUT… many people have NO symptoms. The only way to actually know if you have hyperglycemia is to test your blood with your blood glucose meter.
When it comes to testing your blood glucose, it is important to ensure you are testing regularly using an accurate meter. Blood glucose meter readings may be further from lab results than you think. CONTOUR®NEXT meters go above industry standards to provide readings that are closer to lab results than other meters. You make important decisions based on your blood glucose readings. It is important to ensure those readings are as accurate as possible.
More information and resources
* Pharmacy Practice+ and Profession Santé 2017 Survey on OTC Counselling and Recommendations (re: pharmacists) † The survey relates to the brand, not speciﬁc blood glucose meter models. The CONTOUR®NEXT ONE and CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 meter models were launched in February 2017 and April 2017 respectively, and were not on the market during the time of the survey.
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©2017 Ascensia Diabetes Care Canada Inc. Last Updated February 2018
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