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What is diabetes?


Everybody has glucose in their blood. It's in the food we eat, providing energy for muscles, our organs and brain, giving us energy to work, think and play.


If you have diabetes, there may be too much glucose in the blood, but it does not find its way to the muscles and other parts of the body that need it.


To open the way for your body to make use of glucose, insulin works like a key. That's why, we who have diabetes often use needles or a pump to inject insulin. We change the amount of insulin we inject to match the amount of carbohydrates that we eat at mealtimes. 

What happens when blood glucose levels (BGLs) go too high or too low?


Low BGLs

Low blood glucose is known as a hypoglycaemia, or 'hypo' for short, and when this happens, confusion, sweating and other symptoms, which may include a loss of consciousness, can happen quickly.


It is important that hypos are treated immediately. Usually, hypos are quickly corrected by eating or drinking carbohydrates such as sweets or soft-drink.


Hypos can occur for different reasons - too much insulin, not enough carbohydrates or, as a result of doing exercise.


It is important that we carry our hypo treatment at all times to be prepared. 


Video courtesy of Diabetes UK.




High BGLs

When there is not enough insulin, glucose builds up in our blood and makes us feel unwell.


This hyperglycaemia, or 'hyper' for short, is a gradual process, and its early symptoms (thirst, going to the toilet often) may be quite mild.


It is a very different story when blood glucose levels fall too low.





Find out more about what it means to have diabetes