Welcome to Healthy Dudley. This is the new public health website.

Diabetes Aware

What is diabetes?

The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body either does not produce enough insulin, or much more commonly, when the body can’t use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, enough insulin is produced, but the body is unable to use it as it should. The body then produces more insulin to compensate and keep blood sugar levels normal.

This situation may continue for some time, but as it gets worse, eventually the body cannot keep making the levels of insulin required, especially if it is not treated. This then means there are high levels of insulin and high levels of sugar in the blood.

Type 1 diabetes is mainly found in children and young adults and can develop quickly over weeks or even days and symptoms are more easily noticeable. Adults and older people tend to develop type 2. Type 2 diabetes builds up slowly over  years so it’s common to develop it without realising because the early symptoms seem normal.

How do you diagnose diabetes?

Diabetes can be found with a blood test.

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed if:

  • The fasting level of blood glucose is 7.0 mmol/l or more
  • The non-fasting level is 11.1 mmol/l or more
  • Or a more specialised test for glycolysed haemoglobin, or HbA1c is 48 mmol/mol or more.

Can diabetes be prevented?

Consider having a blood sugar test even if you don’t have symptoms if you are over 40 years old and:

  • Have someone with diabetes in the family
  • Are from a south Asian or Afro Caribbean ethnicity
  • If you are overweight or obese.

An HbA1c result of 42 – 47mmol/mol would mean that you will have been found before full diabetes develops.

You will then be identified to your GP as ‘at risk of developing diabetes’ and you will be offered help by your GP to reduce your risk, plus an annual check-up.

This stage is very important as diabetes can be put off for many years or avoided altogether.

The National Diabetes Prevention Programme offers courses locally to help you reduce your risk and prevent diabetes. See your GP or practice nurse to get referred to the local programme.

All tests are always completed twice to confirm the diagnosis, so expect a second test.

Symptoms of diabetes

These symptoms may seem normal, but are a change from how you normally are, or are unusual for you:

  • Needing a pee more often, especially at night
  • Feeling very thirsty and wanting more drinks
  • Feeling tired
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
  • Blurred vision
  • Wounds being slow to heal

Do you know if you are at risk?

Visit your GP/practice nurse as soon as possible if you experience the symptoms of diabetes, which include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Needing a pee more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk/weight gain
  • Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
  • Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • Blurred vision

Do you know what factors can affect the likelihood of you developing Diabetes? Answer the 9-question quiz to learn the effects and highlight any relevant risk factors.

Diabetes UK has a test to find out if you’re at risk from type 2 diabetes.

Want more information?

Visit the Diabetes UK pages to find out lots more about diabetes, including preventing diabetes and living with diabetes.

You can also visit NHS Choices.

If you are worried you might have diabetes or need support contact your GP.