Diabetes is a long-term condition caused by the pancreas either not producing any insulin at all, not producing enough insulin, or producing insulin that is unable to work properly. This results in too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.

There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes develops if the body cannot produce any insulin. It usually appears before the age of 40, especially in childhood. It is the less common of the two types of diabetes. It cannot be prevented and it is not known why exactly it develops. Type 1 diabetes is treated by daily insulin doses by injections or via an insulin pump.
  • Type 2 Diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). Type 2 Diabetes can often be treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. However, some people may require tablets and/or insulin to be prescribed as well.

Approximately 10-15 per cent of people with Diabetes have Type 1 Diabetes, and 85-90 per cent have Type 2 Diabetes.

There is a third type of Diabetes – Gestational Diabetes. This occurs in about 5% of pregnant women, when a high level of blood glucose in their body means that they are unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all.

There are many organisations where you can find out more information about Diabetes. For example:

The Diabetes UK website has a page called “What type of Diabetes do I have?” where they explain the two types of Diabetes, along with a video to help you understand.

Patient .co.uk has information about Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes such as how it is diagnosed, understanding blood glucose and insulin, possible complications of Diabetes, and the aims of treatment.

The NHS Choices website also has plenty of information about what Diabetes is and how it can be managed.

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