Diabetes is the name given to a group of different conditions in which the body cannot maintain healthy levels of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood.
Glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood glucose levels which cause the health problems linked to diabetes.
The main symptoms are:
- feeling very thirsty
- urinating frequently, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk.
Check your symptoms with healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention, or if you are concerned you may have diabetes see your doctor.
The amount of sugar in the blood is usually controlled by a hormone called 'insulin' which is produced by the pancreas (a gland behind the stomach).
In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, and usually develops before the age of 40. It is less common than type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body's cells do not react to insulin. It is often associated with obesity and is more common in older people.
During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of blood glucose their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as 'gestational diabetes'.
Diabetes Australia provides more information on diabetes on their website www.diabetesaustralia.com.au, or by calling their information line on 1300 136 588.
If you are concerned you may have diabetes please see your doctor.
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Last reviewed: August 2016