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HealthInfo Canterbury

What is diabetes?

Diabetes, sometimes called diabetes mellitus, is a disease that causes high glucose, or sugar, levels in your blood. This can damage different parts of your body. It is a lifelong condition.

The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2.

In type 1 diabetes, your body doesn't make enough of a hormone called insulin. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your blood, so if you don't have enough your blood sugar levels rise.

In type 2 diabetes, your body makes insulin but it doesn't work very well. This is also called insulin resistance.

Diabetes that happens when you are pregnant is called gestational diabetes.

This short video from Diabetes UK Charity explains how insulin works to move sugar into our cells, and what happens when you have diabetes.

Am I at risk of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes most often starts in childhood or adolescence, but can happen at any age. It runs in some families, but most people who get type 1 diabetes don't have any other family members who have it.

With type 2 diabetes, having a close family member who has it strongly increases your risk of getting it. But other things also increase your risk, including being:

Your risk also increases if you:

If you are at risk of type 2 diabetes, there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

On the next page: What is blood glucose?

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Diabetes Centre, Christchurch Hospital. Page created May 2016.

See also:

How to cut down on sugar

Prediabetes

Sources

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