Diabetes – the signs, symptoms, and support

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious illness where an individual’s blood sugar levels are too high. This is either because the body cannot produce insulin at all (Type 1 diabetes) or because the body is not producing enough/effective insulin (Type 2 diabetes). There are other types of diabetes that are less well-known, including type 3c diabetes. To find out more about the other types of diabetes we recommend visiting Diabetes UK.

Is type 1 diabetes genetic?

Scientists used to think that type 1 diabetes was hereditary passed down from parents to children however, it is now believed that while having a close family member with type 1 diabetes does make it more likely that an individual will develop the condition (under certain circumstances), not all individuals with type 1 diabetes have a relative with the condition.

Is type 2 diabetes genetic?

If you have a close relative with type 2 diabetes it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop it yourself. It means you’re more likely to, but lifestyle and diet play a large part in it too.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes

  • Blurry vision
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss

The above are some of the most common diabetes symptoms. Because the signs of diabetes are easily overlooked, many people are living with undiagnosed diabetes.

Can diabetes be cured?

Some people can reverse type 2 diabetes (also called diabetes remission) with the help of diet and exercise (find out more about the NHS diabetes diet here). Type 1 diabetes is a condition you will have for the rest of your life and cannot be reversed. With both types of diabetes carrying extra weight can result in complications, which is why weight management is important.

Supporting someone with diabetes

If you’re looking after a loved one with diabetes there are some things you can do to help them stay on top of their condition.

Help them to follow their diabetes care plan, get to know their diabetes medication, and ensure they regularly monitor blood glucose levels. Ensure you have an emergency plan/kit for high or low blood sugar emergencies.

If they use diabetes technology, you may need to ensure that you are able to use it on their behalf and make sure it is working properly. Often, if needed, diabetes technology is provided by the NHS. If the diabetes diagnosis criteria aren’t met, you can self-fund technology. Find out more here.

Children with diabetes:

For information on how diabetes should be managed in school visit Diabetes UK

Other resources for people with diabetes:

Diabetes books – there are many books about diabetes which can help with everything from dealing with your diagnosis, to reference books and diet books. Find out more here.

Is diabetes a disability?

Diabetes is classed as an unseen disability under the Equality Act. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you may be able to claim Disability Living Allowance. You may also be entitled to other benefits such as free prescriptions. You can find out what you may be entitled to here.

Caring for someone with diabetes is likely to be long-term. If you provide a substantial amount of care you may be entitled to carers allowance, and even if you are not entitled to carers allowance, if you register as an unpaid carer you will be entitled to other support and benefits. Find out more on our carers information page here.

Local support for people with diabetes and their carers/loved ones:

Have a look at our directory to find support local to you.

Woman and her diabetic daughter with lancet pen and digital glucometer

Conditions & Illnesses

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