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Diabetes affects more than 4.7 million people in the UK, with thousands more being unaware that they might have the condition. If this isn’t managed properly, it can lead to severe conditions like Cardiovascular Disease, kidney failure or even blindness.

Type of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. There are however other types of diabetes including Gestational Diabetes and some rarer types of diabetes such as Type 3C and Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA).

Type 1 Diabetes

Person doing diabetes pin prick checkThis is when your body’s pancreas can’t make a hormone called insulin. Insulin regulates the amount of sugar or ‘glucose’ in your blood and, without it, glucose builds up in your bloodstream.

The NHS has produced an online guide for adults with Type 1 diabetes, which includes information if you’re newly diagnosed, how to inject insulin and how to check your blood glucose levels.




DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) is a structured education programme that gives you the skills you need to manage your Type 1 diabetes yourself, with minimal input from health professionals. The course includes advice on insulin dose adjustment, blood glucose and ketone monitoring, exercise and eating out.

Type 2 Diabetes

This happens when your pancreas can’t make enough insulin, or your body’s insulin doesn’t work properly, so glucose levels in your blood go up. Type 2 is by far the most common form of diabetes in the UK and is often called ‘the silent killer’.

This is because people often live with the condition without knowing it – in fact Diabetes UK reckons there are around a million people in the UK with Type 2 diabetes that haven’t yet been diagnosed.

It’s therefore really important to recognise some of the symptoms.

  • Passing urine more often than usual
  • Increased thirst
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing wounds

Tired man getting out of bed

You are more at risk of Type 2 diabetes if you:

  • are overweight, especially if you’re large around the middle;
  • are physically inactive;
  • have a diet high in highly processed foods;
  • have a history of diabetes in your family;
  • are of South Asian, Black Caribbean or Black African descent;
  • have high blood pressure; or
  • are a smoker.

You can check your risk of Type 2 diabetes with the Diabetes UK ‘Know your risk’ tool. If this returns a high risk score, ask your GP practice for a blood test to check if you have diabetes. You can also use the NHS Health Check that’s offered every 5 years to people aged 40-74 years who don’t already have any cardiovascular problems.

But the good news is you can dramatically reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes UK say that more than half the people who’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes could have prevented or delayed it by taking three steps:

  • eating well;
  • moving more; and
  • if you’re overweight, by losing weight.

DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) is a course for people living with Type 2 diabetes to help you stay healthy, live well and share your experiences.

Local Diabetes Patient Support Groups

Diabetes UKBedford Group, Luton Group, MK Group