What is Diabetes? Early Detection Signs – Health Hint!

Apr 20, 2022

Check out our latest Health Hint which is the fifth article in a new series called Early Detection. This series will highlight some of the early detection signs for many of our 21 illnesses to work towards earlier diagnosis and more favorable treatment outcomes.  This article focuses on answering the question ‘what is diabetes?’ and how you can detect it.  We hope you find it helpful.  If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities. 

Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness.  We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life. 

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is released from the Pancreas. This hormone regulates and balances blood sugar. High levels of sugar in the blood can damage organs and lead to some cardiovascular issues, which is why diabetes should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

There are 3 main types of Diabetes

  1. Type 1 – When the Pancreas itself cannot produce the hormone insulin.
  2. Type 2 – When the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or cannot use it properly (Less severe than type 1).
  3. Gestational Diabetes – When the body doesn’t produce enough insulin because of changing hormone levels during pregnancy. When there is a low amount of insulin, blood sugar will increase.

Did you know?

Of the Canadian Population…

  • 29% live with diabetes or prediabetes
  • 10% live with diagnosed diabetes
  • 6.1% live with prediabetes, 
  • 7.0% live with high blood glucose
  • 1.7% live with undiagnosed high blood glucose
  • 1 in 10 women who give birth experience diabetes while pregnant

Diabetes Canada Backgrounder (2021)

Diabetes: detection signs

Early symptoms are similar for type and type 2 diabetes. Recognizing and keeping track of these symptoms can help for an earlier and easier diagnosis. See below a list of common symptoms.

Common Symptoms (Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes)

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Frequent or recurring infections

For gestational diabetes, screening procedures and tests are scheduled periodically during pregnancy to detect and care for gestational diabetes as soon as possible. Common tests and screening procedures include:

  • Glucose tolerance test – Look at the body’s response to glucose
  • Testing for Type 2 diabetes -. It is important to monitor these symptoms and take necessary tests because gestational diabetes can often lead to type 2 diabetes.

Contacting Your Healthcare Provider

After speaking to your health practitioner, you will be directed to screening and testing (Blood work), which will later help with diagnosis. Type 1 diabetes is usually detected in childhood. Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age since it can be developed at any time.

On your part, you can delay or prevent diabetes if you are in the pre-diabetes stage. Losing weight, eating healthy, and moving frequently play a part in diabetic and cardiovascular health. Choosing vegetables. Plant-based proteins, and whole grains can both help you lose weight, and strengthen your cardiovascular health. Moving around and getting exercise is also beneficial. You can begin by reducing the time you are sitting down and aiming to do a certain amount of aerobic exercise (Ex. walking, biking, or swimming).

There are many medications and treatment methods used to control and treat diabetes. See a list of common symptoms below.

  • Insulin pump (For type 1 and sometimes type 2)
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels (Blood glucose meter)
  • Adding healthy meals and physical exercise to your daily routine
  • Gestational diabetes – maintaining physical health (sleep, stress level, and nutrition)

Related articles

Health Hint! – Preventing & Managing Diabetes

Siva’s Story – Canadian Diabetes Association

Health Hint! – How Sugar Can Lead to Inflammation

Health Hint! – 5 diets that could support your health

Useful Resources


Federated Health is a proud supporter of Diabetes Canada. On this page, you can learn more about diabetes and how you can contribute and connect with this community. You can attend events, volunteer, and learn more about the impact on families today.


A Diabetes education camp created by Diabetes Canada striving to connect and educate the next generation who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, camps have been operating virtually.


A platform where you can learn about the different camps and programs Diabetes Canada offers.

We hope you enjoyed our latest Health Hint!

Written by Shiyami Selvapavan




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Federated Health Charities White Logo

For general questions:

Sarah Wood
Executive Director


315 Front St. West, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 0B8

Federated Health Charities White Logo

For general questions:

Sarah Wood
Executive Director


315 Front St. West, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 0B8

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