Understanding Diabetes

We’ll answer your questions and help you manage your condition

Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed or you’ve had diabetes for years, we’re here to help with information about your condition and the best way to manage it to stay healthy, happy and active.

So what is diabetes?

To provide our bodies with energy we all need glucose, which comes mainly from starchy foods (like bread, rice and potatoes), sugar and other sweet foods. After you’ve eaten, glucose levels in your blood increase and your body releases a hormone called insulin. This makes sure your glucose level doesn’t get too high or too low. When you have diabetes, the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because your body can’t use it properly. That’s because your body’s either stopped producing insulin or it can’t produce enough to cope with the glucose in the blood.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes

Usually develops in people under 40 and occurs when the body can’t produce any insulin at all. Your body then uses other sources of energy and unused glucose in the blood builds up, often making you thirsty and needing to pass water frequently. The symptoms are obvious and develop suddenly, and treatment involves insulin injections, eating a healthy diet and keeping active.

Type 2 diabetes

Can develop at any age but it’s usually seen in people over 40. It’s when your body can still make some insulin but not enough, or the insulin your body’s producing doesn’t work properly. Most people with diabetes have Type 2. The symptoms are less obvious and develop relatively slowly – some people don’t notice any symptoms for many years. Type 2 can often be treated successfully with a healthy balanced diet and physical activity alone, but you may also need tablets or insulin injections.

The signs that you may have diabetes

It’s really important to get diagnosed early so that you can start taking control and looking after your health. So if you have any of these symptoms, talk to your pharmacy team or your doctor straight away:

  • Increased thirst
  • Passing water more often, especially at night
  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Slow healing wounds and regular infections
  • Genital itching and regular instances of thrush
  • Numbness
Diabetes Research by LloydsPharmacy

Data sourced from 1.5 million people screened by LloydsPharmacy for Type 2 diabetes over 10 years shows a 31% increase in those found to be ‘at risk’ of developing the condition, including a 17% rise in younger adults. The community pharmacy also found that many people with diabetes are experiencing serious health complications. In a sample of 200,000 LloydsPharmacy diabetes patients (30,000 Type 1 and 170,000 Type 2), 82% of people with Type 1 and 70% of people with Type 2 had at least one other serious health condition related to their diabetes.

Compiled to mark the tenth anniversary of the LloydsPharmacy Type 2 screening service, the Diabetes Decade report finds that inconsistencies in patient knowledge and support made available to them is leading to ineffective condition management, which in turn can lead to other conditions developing. Other risks include the blood supply to the feet being limited which can cause a loss of feeling and serious foot problems. LloydsPharmacy’s foot check advice service for diabetes patients was used by over 30,000 people in the first two weeks of it being available.

More information

Understanding Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Children & Diabetes


Managing Your Diabetes
Foot Care

**Diabetes UK