Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of vascular diseases

In diabetes the body cannot use sugar (glucose) properly.  There is a build-up of glucose in the blood and this can cause a range of serious symptoms.  It can also increase your risk of vascular diseaeses such as heart disease.

There are two main types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body does not make any insulin, the hormone that controls levels of sugar in the blood.  It usually happens before the age of 40

Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use insulin properly.  This type of diabetes can happen at any age, is linked to being overweight, and accounts for 90% of cases of diabetes.

There's nothing you can do to avoid type 1 diabetes.  A healthy lifestyle can help you to avoid type 2 diabetes.  During an NHS Health Check, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes will be assessed, and you’ll be given the support and advice you need to help reduce your risk.

What happens in diabetes?

When we eat starchy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and potatoes, or sugary foods such as chocolate or cakes, the digestion of these foods produces a form of energy called glucose.

Our pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which helps move the glucose into the cells of our body, to provide them with the energy they need.

If we don’t have enough insulin, or the insulin we produce isn’t working properly, the glucose doesn't get moved into the cells of our body. Instead, glucose builds up in our blood.

This means the cells in our body aren’t getting the energy they need.  A build-up of glucose in the blood can also damage tissues and arteries, and lead to other serious health problems.

Symptoms of diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, symptoms usually develop quickly and become obvious over the space of a few weeks.

But in type 2 diabetes, symptoms can creep up gradually. Some people can have type 2 diabetes for years without knowing it: they may think the symptoms are due to getting older, or having a busy lifestyle.

Symptoms include:

Preventing type 2 diabetes
Getting type 2 diabetes is more likely if you're overweight or obese.  This means there are lifestyle changes you can make that will help to reduce your risk of developing the disease.  These are:

At your NHS Health Check your risk of developing type 2 diabetes will be assessed, through some straightforward questions and a few simple health tests.  Afterwards, your GP (or health professional) will go through your results with you and explain what they mean.

If your results reveal that you're at a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, you'll be given information and advice on how to keep your risk low.  If you're at a higher risk, you may be offered support (free on the NHS) to help you lose weight.

There is plenty of information and advice on NHS Choices that can help you to maintain or achieve a healthy weight, get active, and eat well: see NHS Choices links (top right).

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
If your NHS Health Check reveals that you have type 2 diabetes, your GP will talk to you about the medicines and lifestyle changes that will help you.

Finding out you have type 2 diabetes may feel overwhelming, but it doesn't need to stop you having a healthy, active life.  Identifying diabetes as early as possible means you and your GP will be in a position to manage it.  This will help to improve symptoms such as tiredness. Managing your diabetes also reduces the risk of it causing further complications, such as heart disease.

There is more information on diabetes on NHS Choices about diabetes, including a blog written by people who have diabetes.  See the links on the right of this page.

Grace Vanterpool

More than 2 million people in the UK live with diabetes.

Another 75,000 have diabetes but don't know it. In this

video, Grace an expert explains what diabetes is, and the

complications that can arise.

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