Diabetes is a chronic disease. The types most commonly recognized are type 1 and type 2. Some suggest other types as well, but mostly they are just variations of these two.
Type 1 diabetes is a rapid onset disease where the pancreas suddenly stops producing enough insulin. It generally begins in youth. You must take insulin to treat type 1 diabetes. If you are not taking adequate insulin you can develop a life threatening condition called keto-acidosis that requires treatment in the emergency room.
Type 2 diabetes is of gradual onset and in the early stages can be managed by diet and exercise. Later on oral medications can be used. Eventually, insulin may be required.
If you are using insulin or certain oral medications, you can develop hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. This can also be life threatening. If you are on these medications your doctor should have discussed how to check for and manage this condition. A good approach is to cary dextrose tablets, though non-sugar-free candies, orange juice, or sugar can also be used. If you are at high risk of hypoglycemia you should have a glucagon kit - that is typically used by a caregiver and injected if you lose consciousness and are unable to take the usual remedies.
If you get sick you may need to adjust your medications - please see the attached document for recommendations on how to do so: Sick Day Medication Changes.
If diabetes is not well treated, you can lose your vision, have kidney failure and end up needing dialysis, develop painful neuropathy, develop infections in your limbs or poor circulation that can require amputation. You are also at much higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
If you have diabetes you should be getting blood tests done at least twice a year if your diabetes is well controlled and there are no other concerns, otherwise you should be getting blood tests done at least four times a year.
For reliable information on diabetes you can go to www.diabetes.ca