Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. There are two main types: Type 1 and Type 2.
When you’ve got Type 1 diabetes, you can’t make any insulin at all. If you’ve got Type 2 diabetes, the insulin you make either can’t work effectively, or you can’t produce enough of it.
In both types of diabetes, because glucose can’t get into your cells, it begins to build up in your blood, leading to diabetes symptoms.
The common symptoms of diabetes include:
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.
People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes also require regular insulin injections for the rest of their life.
As type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, medicine may eventually be required, usually in the form of tablets. There are many types of medicine for type 2 diabetes. It can take time to find a medicine and dose that's right for you. Usually Type 2 diabetes is controlled without insulin but sometimes insulin may also be required.
Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes courses are encouraged for everyone with type 1 diabetes. It doesn't matter how long you have had it. Evidence shows that people who have been on a course have more stable blood sugar levels and fewer complications.
There are various courses, including face-to-face courses like Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating (DAFNE), which focus on learning how to adjust your insulin. You will learn about:
Attending a course will help you to feel more confident about managing your diabetes, allow you to get better control of your blood glucose levels and be more flexible with your food and drink.
Learning online means you can do it at your own pace and at a time that suits you. You can leave and come back at any time. This might be useful if you have just been diagnosed and there's a lot to take in, or if you have already done a course but need a refresher.
Type 2 Diabetes
About 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.
Other factors that can affect your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes include:
A healthy diet and keeping active will help you to manage your blood sugar level.
There's nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you'll have to limit certain foods. You should:
Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level. You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week. You can be active anywhere as long as what you're doing gets you out of breath. Activity can be built into your day by walking faster, climbing stairs rather than taking the lift or doing more strenuous housework or gardening.
Losing weight (if you're overweight) will make it easier for your body to lower your blood sugar level and can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol. If you need to lose weight, try to do it slowly over time. Aim for around 0.5 to 1kg a week. Find out about a structured education course in your area that will help you understand and manage your diabetes.
Page last updated - August 2023