Diabetes Advice

What Is Diabetes?

The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.

When food is digested and enters your bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it's broken down to produce energy.

Diabetes is a condition that causes a persons blood sugar level to become too high. There are many types of diabetes, but type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common. 



Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition that causes the body immune system to attack and destroy cells that product insulin, the hormone required by cells to use blood sugar as energy and regulate blood sugar levels. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. It can begin suddenly at any age, primarily in children, and symptoms include: 

  • feeling very thirsty
  • urinating frequently, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • losing weight without trying
  • thrush that keeps coming back
  • blurred vision
  • cuts and grazes that are not healing
  • fruity-smelling breath

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease where the body does not produce enough insulin or body's cells don't react to insulin properly. It is usually linked to being overweight, inactive or having a family history of type 2 diabetes. Symptoms include: 

  • peeing more than usual
  • feeling thirsty all the time
  • feeling very tired
  • losing weight without trying to
  • itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • blurred vision

However, some people may be asymptomatic. You can use the Healthier You Risk Tool or the Diabetes UK Risk Tool to help you find out if you are at risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Other Types

There are many other types of diabetes, such as the following:

Gestational Diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually resolves after giving birth. 

Type 3c diabetes can develop if your pancreas is damaged through illness or a condition, such as acute or chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, cystic 

MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young) is a rare form of diabetes caused by a mutation of a single gene. A parent with this mutation has a 50% chance of passing it onto their children. 

For information on more types of diabetes, please see Diabetes UK.

Healthier You

The Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme provides tailored, personalised support to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

You are eligible for the programme if you are: 

  • Aged over 18
  • Registered with a GP in one of our locations
  • Not pregnant (unless you currently have Gestational Diabetes)
  • Able to do light/moderate physical activity 
  • You have not been previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes  

When you are enrolled, you can choose one of the following pathways to undertake your journey: 

  • In Person Group Programme
  • Digital Programme
  • Tailored Remote Programme

Diabetes Prevention

While type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, steps can be taken and measures put in place to prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes through simple lifestyle changes. 

There are around 2 million people in the UK at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and is a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. 

You're more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you:

  • are over 40 years old, or over 25 if you're from an Asian, Black African or Black Caribbean ethnic background
  • have a close relative with diabetes (such as a parent, brother or sister)
  • are overweight or living with obesity or are not very physically active
  • are from an Asian, Black African or Black Caribbean ethnic background

The NHS has developed the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, also known as the Healthier You programme, which identifies people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and refers them onto a nine-month, evidence-based lifestyle change programme.

Living With Diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the prospect of managing it can be daunting, but it is important to remember you are not alone and there are lots of resources available to help you live with diabetes. 

There is a Chippenham & District support group who offer a safe space to meet, share and connect with other people with or affected by diabetes. 

It is important to eat a healthy diet, but that doesn't mean the food you eat has to be boring. Diabetes UK has a recipe finder with hundreds of delicious recipes to choose from, checked and approved by specialist dietitians.  

Diabetes UK also offer practical guides to life with diabetes, from information on your rights to your emotions, finances, travel, and many other aspects of daily life. 

Being physically active is important when you have diabetes and has a great deal of benefits, such as: helping the body use insulin, help look after your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, help your mental health as well as your physical health, and much more. 

healthy food

Diabetic Complications

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. It is a condition that can cause loss of sight due to high blood sugar damaging the back of the eye. Everyone over the age of 12 with diabetes will be invited to have their eyes screened regularly for diabetic retinopathy and maculopathy. If you notice any problems with your eyesight, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible and do not wait for your next screening. 

Diabetes means you are at greater risk of foot problems. It can damage the nerves in your feet and cause loss of feeling, and can reduce blood flow to your feet. This means you may not notice when your foot is injured and injuries do not heal well, potentially leading to ulcers and infection. Adults with diabetes will be offered annual foot checks, and it is important to see you doctor as soon as possible if you notice any problems with your feet.