What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that happens when a person's blood sugar (glucose) level becomes too high because the body can't use it. It can cause serious health problems if it is not treated.

There are 2 main types of diabetes:

Type 1

The body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that make insulin. This means that the body cannot make any insulin.

Around 10% of all adults with diabetes have type 1 and daily doses of insulin are required to treat it. There are no lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of type 1 diabetes, however a healthy diet and exercise are recommended.

Type 2

The body does not make enough insulin, or the body's cells do not react to insulin.

Healthy diet and increased exercise are used to treat type 2 diabetes and medication is often required. Around 90% of all adults with diabetes in the UK have type 2.

Other types of diabetes

  • Gestational diabetes is when some women do not produce enough insulin to absorb the high levels of blood glucose produced during pregnancy
  • Pre-diabetes is when your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes

Visit Diabetes UK for more information.