Skip to content

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that cannot be cured - but if picked up early and with the right management has a minimal effect on your daily life. 

There is more than one type of diabetes. Here we look at type 2 diabetes - the most common one to affect adults – and look at symptoms, treatment and how you can work in partnership with health professionals to manage your care on a day-to-day basis.

Some groups of the population are at much higher risk of getting diabetes than others and of having it at a much younger age, so it’s important to know if you are in a high risk group.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is caused when the level of glucose in your blood is too high because of problems with insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin helps glucose move from your blood into body cells where it is used as energy.

Early diagnosis is important because long term health problems can arise if high blood glucose levels go undetected.

Types of diabetes

Type 1 is much less common and usually appears before the age of 40, most often in childhood or early adulthood. With this type, the pancreas is unable to make any insulin.

Type 2 arises when the pancreas can still make insulin but in insufficient quantities or when body cells don’t respond to it in the normal way. It usually appears in adults over 40, although in South Asian or African–Caribbean people it often appears as early as 25.

Diabetes advice from Diabetes UK

Diabetes advice from Diabetes UK

Julie Banks speaks to Tracy Kelly who is Head of Care at Diabetes UK and offers advice for people who are managing the condition.

Find more features in the "Health" category

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081

This page was last updated: