Managing diabetes

Resources to help people living with diabetes.
Diabetic pen
What’s diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes blood sugar levels to become too high[1]. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Woman talking with doctor
How do I know if I have diabetes?

Most people will find out they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes after experiencing symptoms and visiting their GP. Your GP will talk to you about your symptoms, then ask you to complete a urine and blood test to check your blood sugar levels[1].

Woman drinking water
What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • feeling very thirsty

  • peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night

  • feeling very tired

  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk

  • itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush

  • cuts or wounds that heal slowly

  • blurred vision.

Woman using laptop
Type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

You might be diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Couple preparing food
How to treat diabetes

Treatment options will vary depending on what type of diabetes you have.

Diabetes during pregnancy

Some women can develop diabetes during pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes.

Find out more about gestational diabetes on the pregnancy and birth charity Tommy's website.

Woman fixing face mask
Diabetes and COVID-19

The risk of getting coronavirus is the same whether or not you have any type of diabetes[2].

However if someone with diabetes does get coronavirus, their body will be working to fight off the illness, which will make it harder to manage their diabetes[2]. This means they’re at an increased risk of getting other types of serious illness[2] and of dying of COVID-19 in hospital[3].

Other factors linked to having diabetes may increase the risk of contracting a serious form of coronavirus. These factors include age and weight, as well as having other health conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease[4].

Tablets in hand
Other health conditions linked to diabetes

Other health conditions commonly linked to diabetes include:

  • high blood pressure - up to 75% of adults who have diabetes also have high blood pressure[5]

  • obesity

  • dyslipidemia – abnormal level of lipids (fats) in the body

  • fatty liver disease

  • obstructive sleep apnoea

  • depression.

People living in lower income areas are also believed to experience more linked health conditions as a result of their diabetes diagnosis, than people from wealthier areas. Depression is one of the most commonly linked health conditions[6].

Where can I get further support and information?

As well as talking to your pharmacist or GP, there are a number of charities and organisations offering support and information.

More topics

Managing high blood pressure

Resources to help people living with high blood pressure.

Healthy weight

Information and resources to help you get to and stick to a healthy weight.

Anxiety and depression

Resources and information to help people with anxiety and/or depression.

Published

April 2021

Next review

April 2022

Reviewed by

Gill Stone MRPharmS

References

  1. 1.

    Diabetes. nhs.uk. Published October 18, 2017. Accessed November 12, 2020.

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetes/
  2. 2.

    Updates: Coronavirus and diabetes. Diabetes UK. Accessed November 30, 2020.

    https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus
  3. 3.

    Barron E, Bakhai C, Kar P, et al. Associations of type 1 and type 2 diabetes with COVID-19-related mortality in England: a whole-population study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2020;8(10):813-822. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30272-2

  4. 4.

    Apicella M, Campopiano MC, Mantuano M, Mazoni L, Coppelli A, Prato SD. COVID-19 in people with diabetes: understanding the reasons for worse outcomes. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2020;8(9):782-792. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30238-2

  5. 5.

    Long AN, Dagogo-Jack S. Comorbidities of diabetes and hypertension: mechanisms and approach to target organ protection. J Clin Hypertens Greenwich Conn. 2011;13(4):244-251. doi:10.1111/j.1751-7176.2011.00434.x

  6. 6.

    Nowakowska M, Zghebi SS, Ashcroft DM, et al. The comorbidity burden of type 2 diabetes mellitus: patterns, clusters and predictions from a large English primary care cohort. BMC Med. 2019;17(1):145. doi:10.1186/s12916-019-1373-y