Pharmacy services
Diabetes advice
Woman and child reading a book together, smiling
What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high levels of sugar in the blood.

Glucose is a kind of sugar produced when most foods are eaten, and insulin usually moves it from the blood stream so that it can be broken down and used as energy.

People with diabetes don’t have enough insulin in the body or the insulin does not work properly, so the sugar builds up. High levels of sugar in the blood can cause both short-term and long-term medical problems.

What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes develops quickly, usually over a few weeks. It occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed.

Around 90% of people in the UK have type 2 diabetes. This developes more slowly, over a period of years, when there is not enough insulin in the body or the insulin produced does not work properly.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased if you are overweight or obese, particularly if you have a high waist circumference. You are also at risk if you are of South Asian, Chinese, African Caribbean or Black African decent, or has a relative who also has diabetes.

Diabetes can also occur when you are pregnant.

How do I know if I have diabetes?

Diabetes should be diagnosed by a doctor or a specialist nurse. You should see your GP if you have excessive thirst, need to urinate frequently, or are feeling very tired. These can be symptoms of diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes might not know that they’ve got the condition because the symptoms are not always obvious.

If you have a close relative who has diabetes, or if you're overweight or obese, particularly if you have a high waist circumference, then you might want to take a diabetes screening test to check for type 2 diabetes.

Getting diagnosed early can mean that treatment can be started before long-term damage is done.

How can Well help you?

If you have diabetes, you’ll know that it is important to maintain blood sugar levels and prevent long-term complications such as kidney, eye, heart and nerve damage.

People with diabetes often need a combination of treatments and devices. Our pharmacists can help you be confident in how to use devices or take tablets safely and effectively.

They will also be able to support you with understanding your diabetes choices.

If you don’t have diabetes, our pharmacists can also give you advice on reducing your diabetes risk. Some pharmacies offer NHS diabetes screening tests.

All but a few of our pharmacies have private consultation rooms where you can speak to one of our pharmacists in total privacy.

Find out below what services your nearest Well Pharmacy offers.