Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy.
The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies.
When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should.
This causes sugars to build up in the blood.
Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Diabetes is predicted by a clear set of symptoms, but it still often goes undiagnosed.
The main 3 diabetes signs are:
- Increased thirst
- Increased need to urinate
- Increased hunger
How many diabetics are there?
According to the IDF, the number of diabetics in the world stands at 365 million people, representing around 8.5% of the global population.
There are approximately 2.9 million diabetic people in the UK according to Diabetes UK, and there’s thought to be around 500,000 people who may be diabetic but currently undiagnosed. 
Diabetes is a common hormonal problem that if untreated can lead to diabetes complications such as diabetic neuropathy, kidney problems, heart problems, retinopathy and other disorders. At advanced stages, diabetes can cause kidney failure, amputation, blindness and stroke.
However, complications can be prevented or significantly delayed by exercising good control of diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol. See our information on how to avoid complications
What are the two major types of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent) requires insulin to treat, is typically developed as a child or young adult, and is a disease that destroys pancreatic cells meaning no insulin production is possible.
Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes) is considerably more common and typically affects people over the age of 45, who are also overweight. Those suffering from type 2 are unable to produce enough insulin, and sugar builds up in the bloodstream.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes symptoms often appear suddenly and include:
- High levels of sugar in the blood and urine
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
Type 2 diabetes symptoms include thirst and regular need to urinate, tiredness, irritability and nausea. Skin infections, blurry vision, tingling or dry skin are also relatively common symptoms.
With type 2 diabetes, the symptoms can come on very gradually and it’s important not to be tempted to dismiss the symptoms as simply getting
How is diabetes controlled?
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise,, although it is common for people with type 2 diabetes to need medication such as tablets or injections to help them to keep their blood sugar levels within the normal range.
I’m worried that I may have diabetes, what should I do?
If you are concerned about your health, see a doctor as soon as possible. Diabetes UK, the leading UK diabetes charity, also operate a Diabetes Careline.