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Diabetes awareness month: About cystic fibrosis-related diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day.  For people living with cystic fibrosis (CF), diabetes can be an unwelcome complication, especially as they get older. Almost a quarter of Canadians with CF also have cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD).

How is it caused?

People with CF produce sticky mucus that clogs organs, and in the pancreas, the long-term effects of this mucus leads to a decline in insulin levels and damage to the organ itself. The symptoms include thirst, weight loss, hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, and an unexplained decrease in lung function.

How can I be tested for CFRD?

There are two types of tests for CFRD: an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which measures blood sugar levels two hours after drinking a sugar solution; and a fasting blood glucose test (FBG), where individuals fast the evening before taking the test. A blood sugar level above 11.1 mmol/l indicates diabetes. These tests should be performed annually and given to those not yet tested for diabetes as part of a routine management of cystic fibrosis.


What are my resources?

You can find general information on CFRD here.

In September 2015, Cystic Fibrosis Canada hosted its sixth educational webinar in our Virtual Education Program for Patients and Caregivers. Dr. Yves Berthiaume, a CF clinician scientist from University of Montreal, presented on ‘Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes (CFRD)’ and Paul Underhill, a Canadian living with CF, provided a talk on his experiences living with CFRD. Please follow this link to view the recording.

The best resource will always be your medical team at your local CF clinic. They’ll be able to give you information and care that is tailored to your specific situation.