Know The Score With Diabetes

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Today is World Diabetes Day.

Here, Douglas Twenefour, Deputy Head of Care at Diabetes UK, explains the signs and symptoms to look out for, and how together we can reach our vision of a world where the condition can do no harm.

Douglas Twenefour. Picture courtesy of Diabetes UK.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes currently affects 4.8 million people in the UK — around 1 million of whom are still undiagnosed. While there are several different types, the most common are type 1 and type 2.

Around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, a serious condition where the insulin made by the pancreas can’t work properly, or the pancreas can’t make enough insulin. Normally, insulin helps glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies, but when it doesn’t work, it means your blood glucose (sugar) levels keep rising.

Around 8% of people have type 1, where your blood sugar level is too high because your body can’t make insulin at all. This happens because your body attacks the cells in your pancreas that make the insulin, meaning you can’t produce any.

There are other, more rare types of diabetes. Examples include LADA, a slow developing autoimmune form of diabetes; gestational diabetes occurring during pregnancy; various genetic types under the umbrella term of MODY; and 3C diabetes caused by damage to the pancreas.

Signs and symptoms

There are several factors that can affect your risk of developing type 2. And because the symptoms aren’t always obvious, it’s important to be aware of them.

Your risk of type 2 is affected by things like age, gender, family history, ethnic group and obesity. To find out your risk and discover small steps you can take to lower it, try our Know Your Risk tool.

Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed in adults as well as children, and the four most common symptoms are the 4Ts – toilet, tired, thirsty, thinner.

Type 1 is often not diagnosed until these symptoms become serious and require hospital treatment. So if you notice you’re going to the toilet more, are more tired or thirsty than usual, or have unexplained weight loss (thinner), you should contact your GP surgery as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns, or just want to talk things through, Diabetes UK is here to help.

You can contact the Helpline on 0345 123 2399 or email

Coming together

We’re committed to our vision of a world where the condition can do no harm.

We fund research tackling different types of diabetes, and we campaign on behalf of those living with people living with it. We also provide support through our helpline.

This World Diabetes Day, we’re encouraging everyone to come together and show that despite everything that’s happened this year, if we each take small steps, together we can make a big difference.

For more health and wellbeing tips from “The People’s Friend”, click here.

Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.