Pharmacy Corner
Diabetes: self-monitoring blood glucose & things to watch out for What is diabetes?


Diabetes is a chronic (long-term) disease where you have a raised level of sugar in the blood (also known as blood sugar or blood glucose). It is very common, and affects about 9% of Canadian adults.1 About 1.5 million die each year because of diabetes.1

The good news is you can take care of your diabetes with some good lifestyle habits, checking your blood sugars regularly, and taking the medications prescribed by your doctor.

What causes high blood sugar in people with diabetes?

Before getting into the causes of high blood sugars, we need to talk about a very important hormone in our body: insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by our pancreas and plays a very important role in controlling the amount of sugars in our blood.2,3


Point: The easiest way to think of insulin is it helps to take sugars out of the blood and help to store this energy for when we need it later.


There are two common causes of high blood sugars2,3:

  1. Our pancreas IS NOT making any or enough insulin to remove the sugars from our blood or;
  2. Our body is not properly using the insulin that the pancreas IS making

My doctor recently told me I have type 2 diabetes, what is it?

There are different types of diabetes. The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Key differences between the two are highlighted in Table 1.

Table 1. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes2
Type 1Type 2
  • Pancreas makes no insulin
  • Usually occurs at a young age
  • It is caused by our own immune system attacking and killing the cells that make insulin
  • About 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes
  • Pancreas does not make enough insulin and/or the body doesn’t use it properly
  • More common as we get older and if we are overweight or obese
  • About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes