Diabetes
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What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.
 
There are two main types of diabetes:
  • Type 1 diabetes - where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes - where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells don't react to insulin
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90 per cent of adults with diabetes have type 2.
 
During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of blood glucose that their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as gestational diabetes.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of diabetes include feeling very thirsty, passing more urine than usual, and feeling tired all the time.
The symptoms occur because some or all of the glucose stays in your blood and isn't used as fuel for energy. Your body tries to get rid of the excess glucose in your urine.

The main symptoms, which are common to both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, are:

  • urinating more often than usual, particularly at night
  • feeling very thirsty
  • feeling very tired
  • unexplained weight loss
  • itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
  • cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • blurred vision – caused by the lens of the eye becoming dry

Pre-diabetes
Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.

This is sometimes known as pre-diabetes. If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes is increased.

It's very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.

Living with diabetes
If you're diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to eat healthily, take regular exercise and carry out regular blood tests to make sure your blood glucose levels stay balanced.

You can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to check whether you are a healthy weight.
 
People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes also require regular insulin injections for the rest of their life.

As type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, medication may eventually be required, usually in the form of tablets.

How can we help you?
If you think you might have diabetes, seek help from your GP.
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