World Diabetes Day is on Thursday 14 November

12.3 million people in the UK are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There’s nothing we can do to prevent type 1 diabetes, but around 3 out of 5 cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and being more active.

What is diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Both types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way your body regulates blood sugar or glucose. Glucose is the fuel that feeds your body’s cells, but to enter your cells it needs insulin.

People with type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin.

People with type 2 diabetes don’t respond to insulin as well as they should and later in the disease often don’t make enough insulin.

Both types of diabetes can lead to chronically high blood sugar levels which increases the risk of diabetes complications.

Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. Over a long period of time, high glucose levels in your blood can cause complications including serious damage to your heart, your eyes, your feet, and your kidneys.

With the right treatment and care, people can live a healthy life and there’s much less risk that someone will experience these complications if it’s diagnosed early.

What are the early symptoms of Type 2 diabetes?

• Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
• Being really thirsty
• Feeling more tired than usual
• Losing weight without trying to
• Genital itching or thrush
• Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
• Blurred vision.

Having some of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you definitely have the condition, but you should always contact your GP if you are concerned.

Diabetic eye screening

Everyone with diabetes aged 12 or over should be invited to have their eyes screened once a year.

If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to sight loss if it’s not treated.

Screening, which involves a 30-minute check to examine the back of the eyes, is a way of detecting the condition early so it can be treated more effectively.

Read more about diabetic eye screening.

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