Diabetes is a disease where the pancreas cannot produce a hormone called insulin, or cannot properly use the insulin it produces, or a combination of both.


Diabetes is a disease where the pancreas cannot produce a hormone called insulin, or cannot properly use the insulin it produces, or a combination of both.

About Diabetes + Our Approach

At C-endo we are committed to providing exceptional diabetes care. Our diverse team of experienced healthcare professionals support our patients in reaching their goals.  Our diabetes team includes endocrinologists, certified diabetes educators (CDE), registered dietitians, and pharmacists. We believe in providing patient centered, collaborative care that supports our patients in meeting their own health goals on their diabetes journey.

As of 2019, over 350,000 Albertans live with diabetes. At C-endo our vision is that of a world where Albertans living with diabetes are empowered to have access to care that is optimized, integrated, and efficient. Our diabetes specialists are dedicated to providing the highest quality and most comprehensive diabetes care to our patients with an emphasis on education and prevention of the complications of diabetes.

Click on the dropdown bars below to learn more about the types of diabetes and its complications.

Type 1 Diabetes

An autoimmune disease where the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed and no longer function.

Insulin’s job is to let sugar into cells to be used as energy. When there is no insulin, sugar builds up in the blood stream causing the symptoms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in childhood or adolescence but can develop later in life. Only 5-10% of people with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Feelings of extreme hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision

Treatment Options

Type 1 diabetes is always treated using insulin therapy. Today, human insulin and insulin analogues are used for treatment of diabetes. Human insulin was developed in the 1990s using recombinant DNA technology. Insulin analogues are made by chemically modifying human insulin. In the past, insulin from animals such as cows and pigs were used to treat diabetes. Using animal insulin to treat diabetes is no longer approved for use in Canada. Insulin may be provided as multiple daily injections or by insulin pump therapy.

To learn more about Type 1 Diabetes visit albertadiabeteslink.ca.

Type 2 Diabetes

A chronic disease where the body does not respond properly to the insulin produced.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition where your body does not produce enough insulin, or it does not respond properly to the insulin that is produced.

This results in high levels of sugar building up in your blood stream, which leads to the symptoms and complications of diabetes. The first stage in developing Type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance. This is means that your body is not properly responding to the insulin produced by your pancreas. Your pancreas tries to make up for this by producing more and more insulin until it eventually burns out and produces very little insulin.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Excessive thirst, also called polydipsia
  • Frequent urination, also called polyuria
  • Excessive hunger, also called polyphagia
  • Unintentional weight changes (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Trouble maintaining or getting an erection
  • Slow-healing sores or cuts
  • Itching of the skin (usually around the vaginal or groin area)
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Velvety dark skin changes of the neck, armpit, and groin, called acanthosis nigricans

Risk Factors for Developing Type 2 Diabetes

There are many risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, some you can change, and some you cannot. If any of the following risk factors apply to you, consider speaking with your doctor about being tested for diabetes.

  • Being over the age of 40
  • Men are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than women
  • I have a family member (parent or sibling) with diabetes
  • Being a member of a high-risk population (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South East Asian, Asian, or African descent)
  • Smoking
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Being diagnosed with pre-diabetes or high blood pressure
  • I am overweight, especially if you carry your weight on your abdomen and around your waist

Treatment Options

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease and the treatment of it is progressive as well. What treatments your healthcare team recommends to you may change over time. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, oral medications, or insulin injections.

To find out more about Type 2 diabetes visit albertadiabeteslink.ca

Gestational Diabetes

A condition during pregnancy where the body is resistant to the insulin produced.

Diabetes that is first diagnosed or first develops during pregnancy. It affects 2% to 4% of all pregnancies. Blood glucose levels usually return to normal following delivery. Both mother and child are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

In pregnancy, the changing hormones and effects of a growing baby can result in you not being able to produce enough insulin. When you don’t have enough insulin, sugar begins to build up in your blood and cause symptoms of diabetes. All women should be tested for gestational diabetes before 28 weeks of pregnancy.

It is important to remember that this does not mean your baby will be born with diabetes, and with proper management you can expect a healthy, happy baby.

Risk Factors

  • Being over the age of 35
  • Being part of a high-risk population (Asian, South East Asian, Aboriginal, Hispanic, or African)
  • Being obese (BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher)
  • Having previously given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth
  • Having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Being diagnosed with prediabetes
  • Having a family member (parent or sibling) with type 2 diabetes
  • Using corticosteroid medications
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

To learn more about gestational diabetes visit albertadiabeteslink.ca.


Low blood sugar levels.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is defined as when your blood sugar levels are less than 4.0 mmol/L.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

If your blood sugars are low you may experience any of the following symptoms. You will learn to recognize your own symptoms.

  • Shaky
  • Lightheaded
  • Irritable
  • Confused
  • Weak
  • Sweaty
  • Pounding heart
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling in your mouth or lips

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when there is not enough sugar in your body. This can be caused by:

  • Missing a meal or not eating a whole meal
  • More activity than usual or than expected
  • Not eating when you are sick
  • Eating later than usual
  • Taking too much of your diabetes medications
  • Drinking alcohol

How to Treat Hypoglycemia

If you have a low blood sugar, or are experiencing the symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should treat yourself for hypoglycemia. To treat hypoglycemia you must eat or drink 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate (sugar). Each of the following is 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 3-4 dextrose (dex 4) tablets
  • 3 packets of table sugar dissolved in water
  • ½ cup orange or apple juice
  • 6 lifesavers (must chew)
  • ½ cup regular sugar soda
  • 1 tbsp honey

After treating a low blood sugar you should:

  • Wait 15 minutes, then test you sugars again
  • If your blood sugar levels are still less than 4 mmol/L, eat another servings of one of the above choices
  • If your sugar is greater than 4 mmol/L, you need to have something to eat within 45 minutes.
  • If your next meal is scheduled within the next 45 minutes, eat that. If not, eat a balanced snack that contains 15 grams (1 serving) of carbohydrate and a protein source.


  • 7 soda crackers + 1 oz of cheese
  • 1 slice of bread + 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • ½ peach + ¼ cup 1% cottage cheese

If your blood sugar drops very low you may become confused and disoriented, lose consciousness or have a seizure. If you are experiencing the signs or symptoms of a low blood sugar you need to test your blood sugar immediately. If you do not have you meter with you treat the symptoms anyways. It is better to be safe!


High blood sugar levels.

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body and leads to the common symptoms of diabetes.

When your blood sugar levels are high, your blood becomes thick and syrupy. This requires your heart to pump harder to push the blood around your body. This extra work puts strain on your heart and can damage your blood vessels. High blood sugar levels can also lead to the formation of blood clots. These clots can break off and block or break the small blood vessels in different parts of your body. Prolonged high blood sugar levels lead to the complications of diabetes.

Complications of Diabetes

High blood sugar levels can damage small and large blood vessels.

The complications of diabetes are related to the effects high blood sugar levels have on your blood vessels.

Complications of diabetes are divided into two categories: Microvascular and Macrovascular, or those that affect small blood vessels, and those that affect the large blood vessels.

Microvascular complications include nerve damage, eye disease, and kidney disease. Macrovascular complications include cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, and high blood pressure.

To find out more on the complications of diabetes visit albertadiabeteslink.ca.

Diabetes Education Program

Diabetes education is the cornerstone of diabetes management. Living a healthy life with diabetes requires patients to have knowledge of nutrition, physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, their medication, available medical devices, and how all this fits into their day-to-day life. At C-endo our diabetes education program is led by our team of experienced CDEs, including registered dietitians, nurses, and pharmacists.

We believe that diabetes education empowers our patients to take control of their diabetes and make changes to improve their life and meet their goals.

At C-endo, we offer both one-on-one education sessions as well as access to virtual learning modules.

One-on-One Education

In addition to specialist care, our team of highly experienced CDEs are accessible for those patients that require additional support and personalized strategies to help understand and manage their condition. Our CDEs will support patients with comprehensive education on healthy lifestyle and nutrition, lifestyle interventions and behavioral change, use of therapeutic devices (glucometers, flash glucose monitors, continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps) as well as medication review and optimization. 

Diabetes education is an ongoing process that should continue throughout a patient’s entire life. Meeting regularly with a CDE and specialist, collaboratively, allows patients to remain up to date with diabetes management enabling them to manage their condition effectively and continue to work towards and hopefully achieve their goals. 

If you have not yet been connected with a CDE, ask your specialist at your next appointment.

Virtual Learning Modules

At C-endo we provide access to virtual learning modules for our patients to learn all about diabetes. Our modules focus on educating our patients on the basics of diabetes and they cover topics including what diabetes is, preventing the complications of diabetes, and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your blood glucose control.

Diabetes 101 – Introduction to Diabetes

This module is intended for patients recently diagnosed with diabetes and for those that would simply like a refresher! It aims to provide an in-depth overview of what diabetes is, skills to manage blood glucose levels, diabetes medications, and how to prevent diabetes-related complications. 

Diabetes 102 – Diabetes and Lifestyle

This module is intended for any patient with a diagnosis of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who have previously completed the Diabetes 101 module or have attended diabetes classes in their past. This module aims to review diabetes and the impact within your body, the progression of diabetes, how to manage your diabetes, healthy eating guidelines, the effects of food, portion sizing, and physical activity.

Heart Healthy Eating

This module is intended for any patient seen by a physician at C-health who has been diagnosed with high blood cholesterol or heart disease. This learning modules aims to help individuals understand heart disease and learn new ways to improve cholesterol values through dietary and lifestyle changes. Topics you can expect to learn more about include cholesterol and triglycerides, healthy and unhealthy fats, healthy eating tips, all about blood pressure, sodium, label reading, physical activity, and smoking cessation.

Insulin Pump Therapy Program

Insulin pump therapy can help optimize blood sugar control and reduce risk of hypoglycemia and other diabetes complications. At C-endo we offer a structured insulin pump therapy program to support patients interested in exploring, transitioning to, and managing their diabetes using an insulin pump. 

The C-endo clinics in both Calgary and Edmonton are part of the Alberta Insulin Pump Therapy Program that provides no cost insulin pumps to qualifying Albertans with type 1 diabetes. 

Learn more about the Alberta Insulin Pump Therapy Program