Frequently asked questions on diabetes

Blood sugar test

We answer questions on how to tell if you might have diabetes, how it's treated and who's at risk.

What is diabetes?

A condition in which glucose (sugar) levels in the blood are too high. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 in which your body stops producing insulin; and type 2 in which your body is unable to use the insulin that is produced effectively, usually because excess fat in organs leads to resistance to the normal effects of insulin.

Who's at risk?

There’s nothing anyone can do to reduce their risk of type 1 diabetes. However, being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2, although it’s not as simple as saying that everyone who carries too much weight has the same risk. Other factors, including your age, ethnicity and family history, can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Would I know if I had it?

Undiagnosed diabetes can cause any of the following:

  • extreme tiredness
  • increased thirst
  • the need to pass urine more often than usual, especially at night
  • unexplained weight loss
  • blurred vision
  • slow healing of cuts and wounds.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your GP as soon as possible.

How is it treated?

Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be treated successfully. Type 1 diabetes always needs to be treated with insulin injections. Treatment for type 2 diabetes involves diet, weight control and increasing physical activity. Medication to help control blood sugar levels may be required and reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels is often also recommended. Your doctor can advise you on the best management plan for you.

Read our feature on living with diabetes

Read about diabetes and your diet

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