Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.
This is because your pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter your body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
- Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. It is vital for life.
- Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver.
- If you have diabetes, your body cannot make proper use of this glucose so it builds up in the blood and can’t be used as fuel.
- There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes develops when glucose can’t enter the body’s cells to be used as fuel. This happens when either:
- There is no insulin to unlock the cells (Type 1)
- There is not enough insulin or the insulin is there but not
working properly (Type 2)
Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 10 per cent of all adults with diabetes and is treated by daily insulin doses – taken either by injections or via an insulin pump. It is also recommended to follow a healthy diet and take regular physical activity. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood. It is the most common type of diabetes found in childhood.
Type 2 diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian people, who are at greater risk, it often appears from the age of 25. It is also increasingly becoming more common in children, adolescents and young people of all ethnicities. Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all people with diabetes and is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. In addition to this, medication and/or insulin are often required.
In Type 2 diabetes there is not enough insulin (or the insulin isn’t working properly), so the cells are only partially unlocked and glucose builds up in the blood.