Diabetes is a chronic, lifelong medical condition which occurs when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin, or the body develops a resistance to the action of its own insulin.
Untreated, the absolute or relative lack of insulin will lead to a high blood glucose level. There are two main types of diabetes. ‘Type 1 diabetes’ is an auto-immune disease that often develops in childhood and requires lifelong treatment with insulin. ‘Type 2 diabetes’ is more commonly recognised in adulthood, and requires a treatment combination of diet, exercise, oral medication, and sometimes insulin. ‘Gestational diabetes’ is a relatively common condition specific to pregnancy, and diabetes can also occur as a consequence of another disease or as a side effect of medication.
Normally the body tightly controls its blood glucose level within a ‘normal’ range. Having diabetes interferes with this control system, and people living with diabetes need to manage their own blood glucose levels by monitoring what they eat, adjusting their insulin or other medication doses, and frequently testing their own blood glucose levels.
When blood glucose levels become too high or too low, people with diabetes (and some other people without diabetes) may become unwell and need first aid, or treatment at a medical facility.