Diabetes is a long-term health condition where the body cannot properly regulate your blood sugar (glucose) levels. Glucose comes from the food you eat (primarily from carbohydrates and foods with sugar), which is how your body powers your cells. The hormone insulin plays a vital role in this process by allowing glucose to enter your cells so that they can convert it to energy.

In most people, insulin is made in the pancreas and released when eating. However, people who have diabetes either fail to produce enough insulin for their cells to process glucose or their cells don’t respond to insulin properly. This malfunction can cause severe problems for the body, and people with diabetes must carefully manage their condition.

There are two types of diabetes, called type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is far more common, and over 90% of people who have diabetes in the UK have type 2 diabetes. This resource will examine both types of diabetes, what causes these conditions, their symptoms, and treatments.

Type 1 Diabetes


Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, which means the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. The destruction of these cells means the body can no longer produce the insulin it needs to regulate blood sugar levels, leading to increased glucose in the bloodstream.



The onset of Type 1 diabetes can be sudden, and people often have pronounced symptoms. These include:

  • Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination: High blood sugar levels lead to more glucose being filtered into the urine, drawing in more water and increasing the need to urinate – especially at night.

  • Sudden Weight Loss: Without the ability to use glucose, the body starts burning fat and muscle for energy, leading to weight loss.

  • Fatigue and Weakness: As cells receive less glucose, this can lead to feelings of tiredness and general weakness.

  • Recurring Cases of Thrush: Increased blood sugar levels result in more sugar in sweat, saliva, and urine, which helps the fungus that causes thrush to grow.

  • Blurred Vision: High levels of glucose in the blood can cause fluid to be pulled from the eye’s lenses, affecting the ability to focus.



Managing Type 1 diabetes involves a combination of lifestyle adjustments and medical interventions:

  • Insulin Therapy: For people with type 1 diabetes, this treatment is essential for survival. It involves regular insulin injections or an insulin pump to regulate blood sugar levels.

  • Blood Glucose Monitoring: People with Type 1 diabetes must regularly test their blood sugar levels to manage their condition effectively.

  • Healthy Lifestyle: A balanced diet and regular exercise are crucial in regulating blood sugar levels. Proper management of Type 1 diabetes is critical to prevent complications and maintain a high quality of life.

Type 2 Diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, where the body's cells do not respond effectively to insulin. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune condition, Type 2 is more commonly associated with lifestyle factors and can often be managed with lifestyle changes and monitoring.



The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be more subtle and develop gradually, including:

  • Persistent Thirst: Perhaps the most noticeable symptom, this happens due to high blood sugar levels.

  • Frequent Urination, Especially at Night: The kidneys work harder to filter and absorb excess sugar.

  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Weight loss occurs when the body starts burning fat and muscle for energy due to insufficient glucose utilisation.

  • Fatigue: Energy levels dip as cells become deprived of glucose.

  • Itching Around the Penis or Vagina: Increased blood sugar results in more sugar in your sweat, saliva, and urine, which helps the fungus that causes thrush to grow.

  • Blurred Vision: High levels of glucose in the blood can cause fluid to be pulled from the eye’s lenses, affecting the ability to focus.

  • Cuts or Wounds Taking Longer to Heal: Increased blood sugar affects circulation, making it harder to get nutrients to wounds to heal them.



Treatment for Type 2 diabetes typically involves:

  • Lifestyle Changes: A healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial in managing weight and blood sugar levels.

  • Medications: These may include metformin to lower blood sugar levels and, in some cases, insulin therapy.

  • Blood Sugar Monitoring: Regular monitoring helps in managing the condition effectively.

For many, with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and managing diet, it is possible to reduce blood sugar levels to normal, so the condition is in remission. Being in remission means it is possible to live without the need for medication or daily monitoring so long as the lifestyle changes are maintained.

When Should You See a Doctor?


If you think you are suffering from any of these symptoms, seeing a doctor as soon as possible is crucial. Untreated diabetes can cause serious health problems. You can register online here if you live in London and have not yet registered with a GP.

Online help for my medical condition

Get advice about specific conditions like back pain, coughs, mental health conditions and more

Get in touch

I want general health advice online

Get advice about general symptoms like tiredness, bleeding, pain or weakness

Get in touch

Administrative help form your GP practice

Request sick notes and GP letters or ask about recent tests

Get in touch

I want help for childhood problems

Get help for common childhood problems like rash, ear-ache, cold, flu, vomiting and diarrhoea

Get in touch

Our clinic locations
(more opening soon!)