Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar (glucose) level to become too high. The hormone insulin - produced by the pancreas - is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin. It can develop quickly over weeks or even days and usually develops before the age of 40, often during the teenage years.
If you're diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you'll need insulin injections for the rest of your life. You'll also need to pay close attention to certain aspects of your lifestyle and health to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced. For example, you'll need to eat healthily, take regular exercise and carry out regular blood tests. Visit our Keeping healthy pages for information about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You can also find more information about Living with diabetes at NHS Choices.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 and is where the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body's cells don't react to insulin
If you're at risk of type 2 diabetes, you may be able to prevent it developing by making lifestyle changes.
- Eat healthily
- Lose weight (if you're overweight) and maintain a healthy weight
- Stop smoking (if you smoke)
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Take plenty of regular exercise
If you already have type 2 diabetes it may be possible to control your symptoms by making the above changes. Visit our Keeping healthy pages for information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle will also minimise your risk of developing complications. Diabetes can have serious health consequences, including heart disease and blindness. But with careful management you can reduce your risk. You can also find information on Healthy living with diabetes at NHS Choices.
Foot health is especially important for people with diabetes and you can find information about How to look after your feet if you have diabetes at NHS Choices. You can also visit the keeping yourself well section of this website for some general information about Looking after your feet.
Diabetes UK also have a local support group set up in Hereford, please visit their website for details.
Diabetes in pregnancy
Another type of diabetes, known as gestational diabetes, occurs in some pregnant women and tends to disappear following birth. More information is available at NHS Choices.
Diabetic eye screening
Everyone with diabetes aged 12 or over should be invited to have their eyes screened once a year. Read more about diabetic eye screening at NHS Choices.
You should therefore see your doctor as soon as possible if you have symptoms. More information about diabetes, including symptoms can be found at NHS Choices.
It's very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.