What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a life-long condition that affects many people. In January 2016 it was announced that more than four million people in the UK are living with the condition. Diabetes occurs when the amount of glucose in someone’s blood is too high because it can’t be used properly by the body. The problem is that the pancreas doesn’t produce any – or enough insulin – to help glucose enter the body’s cells. In other cases, the insulin that is produced does not work properly.

What are the types of diabetes?

Diabetes comes in more than one form. In fact, there are several different types of the condition.

  • Type 2 occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells are not reacting to insulin. This means glucose stays in the blood and isn’t used as fuel for energy. Often it will develop from prediabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, which means your immune system attacks healthy body tissue by mistake. In this case, it attacks the cells in your pancreas. Your damaged pancreas is then unable to produce insulin. So, glucose cannot be moved out of your bloodstream and into your cells.
  • There are other types of diabetes such as Gestational diabetes which is when high blood sugar develops during pregnancy which then usually disappears after giving birth. It can occur at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second half. It occurs if your body cannot produce enough insulin – a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels – to meet the extra needs in pregnancy.