Diabetes is a condition that is characterised by a loss of control of blood sugar levels.
It is caused by inadequate insulin production or resistance to its action (insulin is the hormone that stimulates the body to take glucose from the blood into the cells to be used for energy production).
Insulin is produced by specialised cells within the pancreas and is usually released after consumption of food.
Two kinds of diabetes exist: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
This type of diabetes usually occurs in children and is caused by partial or total loss of production of insulin from the pancreas.
This is thought to be due to genetic factors or autoimmune disease that attacks the cells which produce the insulin.
Although it can occur at any age it usually develops quite suddenly in children and must be controlled with regular insulin injections and careful management of the diet.
Type 2 diabetes
This type of diabetes is caused by resistance of tissues to insulin. Therefore insulin is produced, but in amounts that are insufficient or in an ineffective form.
There are strong genetic links with this type of diabetes and its development is closely linked to obesity.
It usually occurs during middle age and later life, but it is increasingly seen in younger adults and even children
This type of diabetes can often be well controlled with diet but may require use of drugs and injections depending on the severity.