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11th June 2018

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high. There are two main types, Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions, but they’re both serious. 

What all types of diabetes have in common is that they cause people to have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood.

We all need some glucose to give us energy. We get glucose when our bodies break down the carbohydrates that we eat or drink and that glucose is released into our blood.

We also need a hormone called insulin. It’s made by our pancreas, and it is insulin that allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies.

If you don’t have diabetes, your pancreas senses when glucose has entered your bloodstream and releases the right amount of insulin, so the glucose can get into your cells. But if you have diabetes, this system doesn’t work.

Type 1 diabetes

This condition is when the pancreas has stopped making insulin, so it has to be replaced with injected insulin.​​​​​​​

Type 2 diabetes

This condition occurs when the pancreas still makes insulin, but it is either not enough or can't get the cells to work.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

  • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
  • Being really thirsty
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Genital itching or thrush
  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
  • Blurred vision

If you have any of symptoms of diabetes, you should contact your GP. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, but it’s worth checking.

How can we treat diabetes?

Everybody is different, so treatment will vary depending on your own individual needs.

If you have Type 1 diabetes, you will need to treat the condition with insulin. 

Whereas if you have Type 2, you may initially be able to manage your condition with diet and exercise.

Your GP or a healthcare professional can help you find the right treatment to suit you and your lifestyle.