What is it?
This is a summary of information about this condition. For more detailed information we recommend using the NHS Choices website, A link to this can be found in the External Resources tab above.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.
The hormone insulin – produced by the pancreas – is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood
There are two main types of diabetes:
- type 1 – where the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin
- type 2 – where the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body's cells don't react to insulin
What causes it?
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 means glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy.
Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and tends to be diagnosed in older people. It's far more common than type 1 diabetes.
What are the symptoms and signs?
The symptoms of diabetes occur because the lack of insulin means glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy.
The body tries to reduce blood glucose levels by getting rid of the excess glucose in the urine.
Typical symptoms include:
- feeling very thirsty
- passing urine more often than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
What treatments are available?
As type 2 diabetes usually gets worse, patients may eventually need medication – usually tablets – to keep the blood glucose at normal levels.
There are a number of medicines available for treating type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems. It's the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in people of working age.
Everyone with diabetes aged 12 or over should be invited to have their eyes screened once a year for diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes is also responsible for most cases of kidney failure and lower limb amputation, other than accidents.
People with diabetes are up to five times more likely to have cardiovascular disease, such as a stroke, than those without diabetes.
NHS Choices website accessed on 09/10/17
Link to the NHS Choices website available in External Resources
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.