Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.
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 does not produce enough insulin, or the body's cells do not react to insulin
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes causes the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to become too high. It happens when your body can't produce enough of a hormone called insulin, which controls blood glucose.
You need daily injections of insulin to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Managing type 1 diabetes can take time to get used to, but you can still do all the things you enjoy. Find out more about type 1 diabetes here.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.
Every two minutes someone finds out that they have Type 2 diabetes. There are 3.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK. This figure has more than doubled since 1996, when there were 1.4 million. If current trends persist one in five people will develop Type 2 diabetes by 2025.
Currently more than 63,000 people in Lancashire have Type 2 diabetes (aged 17+) and more than 45,000 people in Lancashire are estimated to be at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The areas with the highest numbers of people living with Type 2 diabetes include Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and East Lancashire.
Type 2 diabetes develops when your body can’t produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly.
Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems. It’s the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in people of working age. It 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 develop heart disease or have a stroke than those without diabetes.
It’s essential to be diagnosed as early as possible because Type 2 diabetes will get progressively worse if left untreated.
Early diagnosis may also reduce the risk of developing complications later on. It’s very important that you find out if you are at risk of Type 2 diabetes because then you can get support to lower your risk of, or even stop you, developing the condition. You may also be eligible to sign up for your local Healthier You service. The risk of Type 2 diabetes can be reduced significantly by reducing weight, increasing physical activity and improving diet.
Find out more about Type 2 diabetes here.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors:
- Your weight. You’re more at risk if you’re overweight, especially if you’re large around the middle
- Your age. You’re more at risk if you’re over 40 and white, or over 25 and African-Caribbean, Black-African, Chinese or South Asian
- Your family history. You’re two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes
- Your ethnicity. You’re more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you’re Chinese, South Asian, African-Caribbean or Black-African
- Your blood pressure. You’re more at risk if you’ve ever had high blood pressure.
You’re also more at risk if:
- You’ve ever had a heart attack or stroke
- You’ve ever had schizophrenia, bipolar illness or depression, or if you are receiving treatment with anti-psychotic medication
- You’re a woman who’s had polycystic ovaries, gestational diabetes, or a baby weighing over 10 pounds.
You can’t change some of these risk factors. But others you can. The risk of Type 2 diabetes can be reduced significantly by reducing your weight, increasing the amount of physical activity that you do and improving your diet. The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) can support you in taking action in all these areas. Making changes now can lower your risk or even stop you developing Type 2 diabetes.
Find out if you’re at risk – you can do this by visiting www.diabetes.org.uk/knowyourrisk