Important information about COVID-19

Looking to get a COVID-19 immunization? Find a participating pharmacy near you.


For updates on travel restrictions, virtual care or prescriptions drugs, click here.

This page is for informational purposes only. If you are experiencing a health emergency, please seek medical attention.

Diabetes

Living with or managing diabetes personally or for a loved one can feel overwhelming at the best of times—but it doesn’t have to. Having confidence in the resources, programs and services available in your area can help you adjust to life with diabetes. Building connections with others who also have experience with diabetes can greatly improve feelings of isolation and enhance your sense of resilience and determination to live your best life despite the diagnosis.

We are here to help support you with trusted information about diabetes, public resources for managing diabetes care for you or a loved one and provide Alberta Blue Cross® member benefits to support your overall health.

Please be aware, this website is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice. If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately or visit the emergency room.

Living with or managing diabetes personally or for a loved one can feel overwhelming at the best of times—but it doesn’t have to. Having confidence in the resources, programs and services available in your area can help you adjust to life with diabetes. Building connections with others who also have experience with diabetes can greatly improve feelings of isolation and enhance your sense of resilience and determination to live your best life despite the diagnosis.

We are here to help support you with trusted information about diabetes, public resources for managing diabetes care for you or a loved one and provide Alberta Blue Cross® member benefits to support your overall health.

Please be aware, this website is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice. If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately or visit the emergency room.

What is diabetes?

There is a lot of misinformation out there on diabetes, which can impede understanding of the true causes and treatments. The good news is, you can’t “give yourself diabetes” by eating too much sugar; but adopting small steps to healthier living can greatly reduce your risk.

According to Diabetes Canada, the cause of diabetes depends on your genes, family history, ethnic background and other factors such as your overall health1. Diabetes occurs when your body can’t produce enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate the amount of sugar in our blood and how much enters our body from the food we eat.

When you have diabetes, you can suffer from damage to your blood vessels, nerves and organs—either from the build up of sugar in your blood stream or when your body can't absorb enough sugar to be used as energy.

What are the different types of diabetes?

There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. Type 2 is the most common.

Type 1 is categorized as an autoimmune disease, as the body is unable to make its own insulin and is commonly developed in childhood.

Type 2 refers to the body not being able to properly use insulin or make enough of it. It is commonly developed in adulthood, although it can arise in childhood.

Gestational diabetes is temporary and can form during pregnancy. Three to 20 per cent of pregnant women will have this form of diabetes.

One in three Canadians is living with diabetes or prediabetes.2

It is estimated that 90% of diabetes cases among Canadian adults are Type 2, which can be largely modified through healthy lifestyle habits.2

According to Diabetes Canada, those 20 years old today face a 50% chance of developing diabetes in their lifetime.2

Understanding what increases the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes

Prediabetes

It is also important to recognize prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes is preventable and can be identified with regular screening and potentially reversed by the adoption of healthy behaviours. When left unchecked, more than half of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within eight to 10 years3.

If you have prediabetes, or are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, you may be eligible for the Canadian Diabetes Prevention Program. This free 12-month program can help empower you to make healthier choices and reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes through personal health coaching, online education modules and health tracking.

Find out more about the Canadian Diabetes Prevention Program here and if you may be eligible.

Type 2 diabetes

Knowing what may increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is a positive step in your health and wellness journey as it is possible to have Type 2 diabetes without experiencing any symptoms. Equally as important is understanding that some risk factors for Type 2 diabetes might be outside of your personal control; however, many can be managed over time to greatly reduce your risk.

Common risk factors linked to Type 2 diabetes include the following:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Age (40 years or older).
  • Family history of Type 2 diabetes.
  • High cholesterol or other fats in blood.
  • Obesity.
  • Prediabetes (when blood sugar is higher than normal).
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Mental illness.

Type 2 diabetes can present in different ways and can often go unnoticed. Use the Diabetes Canada website to learn about what warning signs and symptoms to watch for. The earlier you can recognize the signs, the earlier you can take action to support your health.

Diabetes assessment tools

As prediabetes and undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes can occur without warning signs or symptoms, understanding your risk can help you prevent the development of diabetes. The following assessment tools can help to determine your health risks.

These risk scores are in no way a substitute for actual clinical diagnosis. If you have any concerns, please consider discussing your results with a health care practitioner (such as a family doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist).

If you do not already have a family doctor, click here to find one.

Public resources

Healthy Canadians Diabetes Risk Questionnaire

Assess your risk, or the risk of a loved one, for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes by using the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire.

Alberta Blue Cross® member resources

Alberta Blue Cross® Health Risk Assessment tool

Try Balance®, our online wellness program, which includes a Health Risk Assessment that gives you a snapshot of your overall health and helps you understand the areas you may be at risk for, including Diabetes.

How can I reduce my risk of Type 2 diabetes?

Like most chronic conditions, developing the right lifestyle habits can be helpful for prevention and management. Lifestyle can make a difference in preventing as well as managing diabetes; learn more about lifestyle management here. The following are ways to reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

1

Healthier
eating.

Healthy eating | Diabetes Canada

Making healthier food choices, such as limiting your intake of highly processed foods and sugary drinks can help reduce your risk.

2

Moving
more.

Exercise and activity | Diabetes Canada

Being physically active can help lower your blood sugar and improve your blood sugar control.

3

Quitting
smoking.

Alberta Quits

Smokers who have diabetes are more likely to have serious health problems. Learn how to reduce your risk with Alberta Quits.

4

Maintaining a healthy weight.

Weight management | Diabetes Canada

Maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.

How can I manage my diabetes?

A diabetes diagnosis can be distressing. But, with the help of your family doctor and self-management practices, you can live a long, healthy life by keeping your blood sugar levels in the target range. Managing your condition involves lifestyle management, such as regular physical activity, keeping a nutritious diet, managing stress effectively and aiming for a healthy body weight. Progression of diabetes can also be managed through regular blood glucose testing.

Learn more from Diabetes Canada about home blood glucose monitoring and information on selecting the right monitor for you.

You may have been prescribed diabetes medication or insulin injections. Learn more about diabetes medication management and monitoring your blood sugar levels.

Living with a chronic disease such as diabetes, not only impacts your physical health, but your mental health. As your mental health can affect many aspects of your life—including your ability to handle stress and self-manage your care—it is important to look after your mental health and connect to resources and supports when you are experiencing challenges. Talk to health care professional about how you are feeling and remember you are not alone, help is available.

Are you an Alberta Blue Cross® member?

Use our drug and health look-up tools on the member site to determine what coverage is available to you. Your benefits may include medications and diabetic supplies.

What services and resources are available to help me prevent and manage diabetes?

Find the help you need to guide you through your treatment and make living with diabetes more manageable. With a chronic condition such as diabetes, it is important to always ask for support or advice from health care professionals.

Public resources

Find a doctor | Primary Care Network

Having a family doctor can assist you in providing ongoing management and support.

Alberta Healthy Living Program | Alberta Health Services

The Alberta Healthy Living Program provides workshops and education sessions led by various health care professionals for those over the age of 18. Services may include information, education, techniques and support to help improve your health and quality of life with a chronic condition.

Diabetes Educator Centre

The Diabetes Educator Centre, with more than 30 locations across Alberta, provide education and adjustment of diabetic medications, nutritional guidance, healthy living classes, psychosocial support and information regarding diabetes in pregnancy.

Alberta Health Services Diabetes Program

Alberta Health Services (AHS) Diabetes Program can connect adults with prediabetes and diabetes with community services and patient education classes. A Support Line (780-735-1051) is also available from AHS for diabetes related concerns and consultations.

Diabetes workshops | Primary Care Networks

Primary Care Networks offer a range of classes and workshops to help manage your mental and physical health.

Diabetes Canada Education Line

Diabetes Canada Education Line is a free and confidential service for health information and advice on the self-management of diabetes in English and French. All clients are referred to a Certified Diabetes Educator for advice within 24 to 48 hours.

Virtual diabetes classes | Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada virtual classes are available to guide Type 2 diabetes management in response to COVID-19. This resource is subject to change as the pandemic progresses.

Insulin Pump Therapy Program

The Insulin Pump Therapy Program currently provides funding for the cost of insulin pumps and pump supplies for eligible Alberta residents with certain types of diabetes.

Connecting to health care

Find more information on connecting to different health care providers, programs and services in Alberta.

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback

An Asian woman with dark hair and glasses sitting on the couch at night holding a glass of water and looking at her phone.

Eligibility for drugs, dental, vision and paramedical services

The Alberta Blue Cross® app and our member site contain important information about your plan including claim history, coverage maximums and next...

Read more on the blog

All information, content, and material contained on this website (including links to other third-party websites) is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice on any subject matter, or for any individual case or situation. Nothing on this website is intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified medical professional, and you should not act, or refrain from acting, on the basis of any content included on this website. If you require medical advice, you are advised to consult a qualified medical professional.

[1] The Canadian Diabetes Association. “Causes” of diabetes. Available at: https://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/causes-of-diabetes.

[2] The Canadian Diabetes Association. One in three Canadians is living with diabetes or prediabetes, yet knowledge of risk and complications of disease remains low. Available at: https://www.diabetes.ca/media-room/press-releases/one-in-three-canadians-is-living-with-diabetes-or-prediabetes,-yet-knowledge-of-risk-and-complicatio.

[3] Public Health Agency of Canada. Your Guide to Diabetes. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/reports-publications/diabetes/your-guide-diabetes.html#You.