Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions in the UK.
It is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when there is too much glucose – or sugar - in the blood.
If your blood sugar is consistently too high, it can increase the risk of serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and eye problems.
There are different types of diabetes; Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes (which only affects women during pregnancy).
According to Diabetes UK, there are almost 3.6 million people with diabetes in the UK.
It is estimated a further 1 million people are living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
There is nothing that can be done to prevent Type 1 diabetes.
It occurs when the immune system incorrectly targets and destroys the cells that produce insulin.
Without insulin, the human body cannot move glucose from the bloodstream into cells for conversion into energy.
Patients with Type 1 diabetes require regular insulin treatment to maintain normal glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes tends to develop in later life and occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body builds up a resistance to the insulin produced.
Increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, prompting concerns about poor diet.
Some patients can control Type 2 diabetes through diet or exercise. However, it is possible that Type 2 diabetes patients will require medication.
Common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include excessive thirst and hunger, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, tiredness, frequently needing to urinate and sores or cuts that won’t heal.
You can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by exercising regularly, managing your weight, limiting alcohol intake.
Speak to your GP if you are concerned about diabetes or want help in managing the condition.
* Dr Alexandra Phelan is an NHS GP and online doctor with Pharmacy2U.co.uk. Visit www.pharmacy2u.co.uk/NHS or call 0800 031 9162 for more information.