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Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.


In the UK, approximately 2.9 million people are affected by diabetes. There are also thought to be around 850,000 people with undiagnosed diabetes.

Types of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes, referred to as type 1 and type 2.


You can read more information on type 1 diabeteshttps://mytype1diabetes.nhs.uk/

 

See Patient Information & Helpful Links page to download supporting documents.

 

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don't react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.


Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn't produce any insulin at all. In the UK, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.


This topic focuses on type 2 diabetes.

 

 

Type 2 diabetes usually affects people over the age of 40, although increasingly younger people are also being affected. It is more common in people of South Asian, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern descent.

Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes can cause various symptoms. Symptoms common to both types of diabetes include:

  • feeling very thirsty
  • urinating frequently, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk

Read more about symptoms of type 2 diabetes.


You should visit your GP as soon as possible if you notice these symptoms.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin is a hormone produced by part of the pancreas, a large gland located behind the stomach. Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. It moves glucose from the blood into your cells, where it is converted into energy.


In type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is produced to maintain a normal blood glucose level (insulin deficiency), or your body is unable to use the insulin that is produced effectively (insulin resistance).

 

Read more about the causes of type 2 diabetes.

Treating Type 2 Diabetes

It is important diabetes is diagnosed as early as possible. Diabetes cannot be cured, but treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible to control your symptoms and minimise health problems developing later.


If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you may be referred to a diabetes care team for specialist treatment, or your GP surgery may provide first line diabetes care.


In some cases of type 2 diabetes, it may be possible to control your symptoms by altering your lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet (see below).


However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, you may eventually need medication to keep your blood glucose at normal levels. To start with this will usually take the form of tablets, but later on it may include injected therapies, such as insulin.

 

Read more about treating type 2 diabetes.

Complications

Left untreated, diabetes can cause many health problems. Large amounts of glucose can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs. Even a mildly raised glucose level that doesn't cause any symptoms can have damaging effects in the long term.

 

Read more about different complications of type 2 diabetes.

Living with Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, you will be advised to look after your health carefully. Caring for your health will also make treating your diabetes easier and minimise your risk of developing complications.It helps to eat a healthy, balanced dietstop smoking (if you smoke), drink alcohol in moderation and take plenty ofregular exercise.

 

Read more about living with type 2 diabetes.

 

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