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    For people with type 2 diabetes, educational workshops are available. Please consult the Ouvre un lien interne dans une nouvelle fenêtreCISSS de Laval Cible santé page. (In French)

    What is diabetes?

    Diabetes is a chronic and incurable disease. It is caused when the body doesn’t have enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin properly. When this happens, too much sugar stays in the blood.  Produced by the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that lets the glucose (sugar) in food be used by the cells of the body. Cells use this energy to function. If you don’t produce enough insulin or if the insulin you do produce doesn’t do its job (which is what happens with diabetes), the cells can’t use glucose (sugar) as a fuel. Sugar then builds up in the blood and is eliminated in the urine. Over time, this hyperglycemia (excess blood sugar) can cause complications for the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. It is estimated that nearly 650,000 people in Quebec have diabetes. About 200,000 are unaware of their condition. There are three main types of diabetes. 

    Type 1 diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes occurs in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood. People with this condition do not produce any insulin at all. People with type 1 diabetes need daily injections of insulin to live. It is currently impossible to prevent this type of diabetes. Research in this field has focused mainly on understanding how the cells that produce insulin are destroyed.

    Type 2 diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes occurs much later in life and generally after the age of 40. The vast majority of people with diabetes (90% of cases) have this type. For many years now, this type of diabetes has been occurring earlier and earlier in some at-risk groups. It can also occur as early as childhood. We know that Aboriginal people, Latin Americans, Asians and people of African origin seem to develop the disease more often than other groups. A genetic predisposition, excess weight and a lack of exercise all contribute to type 2 diabetes. However, some studies have shown that a diet high in calories and fat can also be a risk factor. Type 2 diabetes can develop very slowly without your knowing it. Symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed for many years. Unfortunately, once the disease is diagnosed, the damage has been done. By making major changes to your lifestyle, you can ward off diabetes for as long as possible or reduce its impact.

    Gestational diabetes

    “Gestational diabetes” is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, usually near the end of the 2nd trimester or during the 3rd trimester. In 90% of cases, it goes away after the baby comes. Gestational diabetes occurs in 4% to 6% of pregnancies and affects both the baby and the mother. The baby risks being larger than normal and having diabetes later in life. In the mother, diabetes increases the risk of infection, increases fatigue, and can cause complications during childbirth. Gestational diabetes is treated and controlled with a healthy diet and lifestyle.  If your diabetes is not well controlled even despite these changes, you may need to take insulin, as oral diabetes medication should not be taken during pregnancy.

    Diabetes signs and symptoms

    People with diabetes can have different symptoms of different intensities.  Whether you have type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes, you need to see your doctor. Diabetes symptoms include:

    • Fatigue, drowsiness
    • Increased urine volume
    • Intense thirst
    • Excessive hunger 
    • Weight loss
    • Blurred vision
    • Slow healing
    • Genital infections
    • Tingling in the fingers or the feet
    • Change in character

    Diabetes risk factors

    • Heredity
    • Obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Physical inactivity
    • Some viruses
    • Some medications

    Diabetes prevention

    You may think there’s nothing you can do to prevent diabetes. Unfortunately, this is true in the case of type 1 diabetes. However, when it comes to type 2 diabetes, you can take concrete action to prevent or delay the disease and minimize its severity.

    Can type 1 diabetes be prevented?

    It is currently impossible to prevent type 1 diabetes. In most cases, the cells that produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system. A combination of genetic and environmental factors also play a role in the destruction of these cells.

    Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

    The known factors contributing to this disease are age, heredity, excess weight and physical inactivity. Studies tend to show that a high-fat diet may also be a risk factor. However, no one is immune to the disease, as you can still develop diabetes even if you have healthy habits. We do know that some groups are more at risk of diabetes than others. Aboriginal people, Latin Americans, Asians and people of African origin seem to develop the disease more than other groups. About 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. This condition is a major risk factor in this silent but serious disease. 

    Eat a healthy diet

    You need to eat a well-balanced and varied diet to prevent diseases like diabetes. To eat a good diet, choose foods that are low in fat, sugar, and salt as often as possible and by increasing your intake of fibre-rich foods.


    Recent studies have shown that even a small increase in the frequency and intensity of physical activity has a beneficial impact on health, particularly for sedentary people. You only need 30 minutes of exercise a day! When you increase your physical activity, you expend more energy and increase your metabolism. For people with diabetes, exercise helps your body make better use of injected insulin or any insulin still produced by your pancreas.

    Diabetes management and support

    We still don't have a cure for diabetes. However, proper medication, a good diet and lifestyle changes can let people with diabetes lead as close to a normal life as possible while avoiding the long-term complications often associated with this disease.

    Diabetes information and resources

    /typo3conf/l10n/fr/rtehtmlarea/Resources/Private/Language/fr.locallang_accessibilityicons.xlf:external_link_new_window_altText Association Diabète Laval

    /typo3conf/l10n/fr/rtehtmlarea/Resources/Private/Language/fr.locallang_accessibilityicons.xlf:external_link_new_window_altText Diabetes Québec

    /typo3conf/l10n/fr/rtehtmlarea/Resources/Private/Language/fr.locallang_accessibilityicons.xlf:external_link_new_window_altText Diabetic Children’s Foundation

    /typo3conf/l10n/fr/rtehtmlarea/Resources/Private/Language/fr.locallang_accessibilityicons.xlf:external_link_new_window_altText Diabetes Canada

    /typo3conf/l10n/fr/rtehtmlarea/Resources/Private/Language/fr.locallang_accessibilityicons.xlf:external_link_new_window_altText International Diabetes Federation (IDF)

    Sources: CISSS de Laval, Diabetes Québec, PasseportSanté.net