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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that causes the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood to become too high. There are 2 main types of diabetes - type-1 and type-2. Here we look at type-2 diabetes, the most common one to affect adults.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels within normal range, or the body's cells don't react to insulin. This means glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of type-2 diabetes can often come on quite gradually and be rather vague at first. This is why many people are living with the condition undiagnosed. The main symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Frequent urination, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Weight loss

Reducing your risk

Type-2 diabetes normally develops in people over the age of 40 although younger and younger people are now being diagnosed with the condition. There are a number of factors that may increase risk of developing diabetes:

  • Having a relative with the condition
  • Are of South-Asian, middle-eastern or African-Caribbean origin
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Store fat around your abdomen (called ‘apple-shaped’).

There are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating a healthy diet, being active, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can help.

Help and support

If you think you might have diabetes go to your GP and talk about your symptoms, as early diagnosis and treatment is important. A number of tests may be used to diagnose type-2 diabetes including a urine sample and blood tests. If you are diagnosed with diabetes your GP will talk you through the condition and your treatment options. Currently there is no cure for type-2 diabetes so treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels within the normal range, to prevent damage to your body.

Useful contacts

Diabetes UK
Diabetes UK is the leading UK charity that cares for, connects with, and campaigns on behalf of people affected by and at risk of diabetes.
Helpline: 0141 212 8710 or visit provides a free information platform for people with diabetes to learn, discuss, and help themselves.

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