There are 2 main types of diabetes:
- type 1 diabetes – where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
- type 2 diabetes – where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells don't react to insulin
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.
Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.
This is sometimes known as pre-diabetes. If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes is increased.
It's very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.
Although there are no lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is often linked to being overweight.
The Healthier You service is a free service available in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that can help you lower your risk of developing diabetes. Read more here.
Read more about how to reduce your diabetes risk on the NHS website.
When to see a doctor
Visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:
- feeling very thirsty
- urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.
Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.
During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of blood glucose that their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as gestational diabetes.
The local NHS provides free courses to support people diagnosed with diabetes. There are courses for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes courses are called either DAFNE or PDAC, depending on where you live. Read more here.
Type 2 Diabetes support is called DESMOND. Read more here.
Living with diabetes
If you're diagnosed with diabetes, you'll need to eat healthily, take regular exercise and carry out regular blood tests to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced.
You can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to check whether you're a healthy weight.
You can find apps and tools in the NHS Apps Library to help you manage your diabetes and have a healthier lifestyle.