Guide to diabetes

Understanding diabetes


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. It can happen when your body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it produces is not effective. Or, when your body cannot produce any insulin at all.

When you’ve got type 1 diabetes, you cannot make any insulin at all. If you have got type 2 diabetes, it is a bit different. The insulin you make either cannot work effectively, or you cannot produce enough of it. They are different conditions, but they are both serious

Other types of diabetes include gestational diabetes, which some women may go on to develop during pregnancy. And there are many other rarer types of diabetes such as type 3c and Latent Autoimmune
Diabetes in Adults (LADA) too. In all types of diabetes, glucose cannot get into your cells properly, so it begins to build up in your blood. And too much glucose in your blood causes a lot of different problems. To begin with, it leads to diabetes symptoms. To find out more about all types of diabetes, managing the condition, news, research and useful resources we recommend exploring the Diabetes UK website.

What is insulin?

Insulin works as a chemical messenger that helps your body use the glucose in your blood to give you energy. You can think of it as the key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells. Once the door is unlocked, glucose can enter the cells where it is used as fuel. In Type 1 diabetes the body is unable to produce any insulin so there is no key to unlock the door, and the glucose builds up in the blood.

Diabetes and Pregnancy

Information around Diabetes and pregnancy can be found at:

Pregnancy and Diabetes – Diabetes UK

Planning for Pregnancy –Tommys Org

NICE diabetes in pregnancy guides – NICE

Diabetes and Pregnancy – NHS

Clinical trials

Diabetes researchers are carrying out clinical research projects all around the world. They are reliant on people volunteering their time to help test ideas and make new discoveries. Before new treatments can be used to help people with diabetes they must be carefully tested to determine their safety and effectiveness. By taking part in such trials you could play an important role in helping to prevent diabetes, to develop new and better treatments, or to find a potential cure. Researchers will work with people of different ages and backgrounds and sometimes they look for a specific medical history and criteria.

Follow the links below to learn about current trials that need volunteers. The list is provided for information purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation for participation in any of the studies. If you would like to take part in a clinical trial you should always consult your healthcare team and speak to the healthcare professionals involved in the study. You should be aware that there may be adverse side effects or disadvantages when participating in research or trials.

Diabetes healthcare

Essential health checks
for all patients

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Exploring diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

We offer routine virtual clinic appointments either by consulting you over the telephone or via Microsoft Teams

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Type 2 diabetes

Our friendly forums are a great place to meet other diabetes patients, careers and healthcare professionals.

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Young people with diabetes

Our dedicated inpatient diabetes team is based at Colchester General Hospital.

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