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Blood Glucose Calculator

Use our blood glucose calculator to find out what your blood glucose readings mean.  

Select your type, time of day and then enter your  blood glucose reading into the box.

    • Easy to use
    • 5 sec test time
    • 1000 reading memory (mmol/L)
    • Suitable for pregnant women, neonates & anaemia patients
    • Pack includes: lancing device + 25 lancets + 25 test strips
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What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes (also known as T1DM, which stands for type 1 diabetes mellitus) happens when the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. The pancreas is a small organ in the top of the abdomen which makes lots of juices and hormones to help us digest our food and control how much sugar is in our blood. Insulin is a hormone that decreases the amount of sugar, also known as glucose, in the blood. Without insulin, sugar levels can increase to an unhealthy level. Moderately raised sugar levels can cause long-term damage to your internal organs, while very high levels can lead to a life-threatening emergency.


What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes (also known as T2DM, which stands for type 2 diabetes mellitus) is a condition that leads to increased blood sugar levels. Normally, if the blood sugar gets too high, the hormone insulin will bring it back down within a healthy range. However, in type 2 diabetes, either the body’s insulin doesn’t work properly, or there isn’t enough of it, or sometimes it is a combination of both.  This results in raised sugar levels, causing serious damage both in the short and long-term.

Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is badly damaged, resulting in it being unable to make insulin altogether. People with type 1 diabetes tend to have symptoms from a younger age and are usually diagnosed as children or young adults.

With type 2 diabetes, there is still insulin present in the body, however it’s either not enough, or does not have the desired effect. The latter is a phenomenon known as ‘insulin resistance’ and simply means that the body stops responding normally to insulin. It tends to occur in adult life and is caused by carrying excess fat. That being said, obesity is becoming more common in children and young adults, resulting in more people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a younger age.

What are the main causes of type 1 diabetes?

A positive family history is the only definite known risk factor for type 1 diabetes. Although, this is only present in about 10 – 15 % of cases. Children who have parents with type 1 diabetes have a 6% risk, with the risk being slightly higher if it’s the father who has type 1 diabetes. This might not sound like much, but it’s much higher compared to the 0.4% risk for the general population.

There are many studies being done to find out what other factors might cause type 1 diabetes like the TEDDY Study. While this study is still ongoing, there have already been some interesting developments, such as a link found between certain childhood respiratory infections and damage to pancreas cells, and the association of lower Vitamin D levels with developing type 1 diabetes.


What are the main causes of type 2 diabetes?

Carrying extra fat is the biggest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, many would argue that carrying extra fat isn’t just a risk factor for developing diabetes but actually the direct cause.

Here are the two main ideas behind this:

  1. When we carry excessive fat, our body becomes less sensitive to insulin (insulin resistance).  If our body isn’t listening to insulin, our blood sugar stays high and doesn’t lower to a healthy level.
  2. Fat is usually stored in areas such as ‘love handles’ or just under the skin, however when these areas become “full” the body starts to store them in and around our internal organs, including the pancreas and liver. This can lead to inflammation and damage, affecting both the production of insulin and the body’s sensitivity to it.

Having a family history of diabetes also increases your risk of having type 2 diabetes, as does a history yourself of gestational diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes: type 1 and 2

  • Excessive weeing (polyuria). Diabetes results in raised sugar levels which eventually raises the sugar level in the urine as well. This has an osmotic effect in the kidneys, pulling in extra fluid from nearby areas to become urine as well, resulting in the volume of urine increasing.
  • Excessive thirst (polydipsia). We may feel thirstier due to weeing too much, as well as due to the raised blood sugar levels themselves. Our body can trigger us to feel thirsty if we need to dilute things like a too-high sugar or salt level down.
  • Recurrent infections (e.g., thrush that is hard to treat).
  • Fatigue.
  • Unexpected weight loss (this is more common in type 1 diabetes).
  • Poor-healing wounds.
  • Blurry vision.

Symptoms of type 1 and 2 diabetes emergencies

Things can get serious quickly if the blood sugar rises very high or very low.

 Hypoglycaemia (‘hypo’)

This is where you have low blood glucose levels, usually 4mmol/L or below. There are a few reasons why the blood glucose level may drop this low, such as the insulin dose being too high, not eating enough, exercising or drinking alcohol.

Symptoms include:

  • Shakes
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness

If you think someone is having a hypo (and they’re conscious), get them something sugary to eat or drink quickly (pure fruit juice, a few sweets, or a sugar tablet or gel are good options). Stay with them, making sure they feel better soon. If they faint, give them a glucagon injection if you know how to. Ring 999 immediately if you don’t have a glucagon injection, or if they haven’t recovered within 10 minutes of giving a glucagon injection. For more details, check out our page from St John Ambulance, or Diabetes UK.

Symptoms of Type 1 DM emergencies

DKA, Diabetic Ketoacidosis

DKA is most common in people with type 1 diabetes but people with type 2 diabetes can develop it too. Insulin is not only responsible for lowering sugar levels in the blood but must also be present for your body’s cells to use glucose as energy. If there is a lack of insulin, the body tries to find an alternative energy source to glucose. This is when it uses fats instead. In the liver, fats get broken down into molecules called ketones, these can be used by cells for energy, even when there is no insulin present.

While this seems like a good solution, in people with diabetes, the quantity of ketones can go unchecked, which gets dangerous. Ketones are acidic by nature, and if there are too many of them, they can bring down the pH balance of the blood (hence ‘ketoacidosis’), resulting in disastrous knock-on effects.

Symptoms and signs of DKA include:

  • High blood sugar levels
  • Ketones present in the blood or urine
  • Excessive thirst and weeing
  • Blurred vision
  • Altered mental state – confusion, drowsiness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sweet or fruity-smelling breath
  • Fainting

DKA is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency. If you think someone with you might have DKA, they need urgent medical help. If they have any of the above symptoms, please ring 999 or take them to A&E immediately. Or, if they know their ketones are only slightly high (0.6 – 1.5 mmol/L), and they are not too unwell, you can ring 111 or their diabetes care team for urgent help instead.

Symptoms of Type 2 DM emergencies

HHS (Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State)

This is caused by a very high sugar level.

Symptoms of this include:

  • Above-baseline levels of excessive thirst
  • Above-baseline levels of urination
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

This could happen if someone forgets to take their medication or if their sugar levels rise above normal due to an infection.

HHS is uncommon, but is also a dangerous medical emergency when it happens, with a high mortality rate. It tends to develop over days instead of hours. If someone with you has HHS, ring 999 or take them to A&E immediately. If you aren’t sure if it’s HHS, but you think their sugar levels are high and they seem unwell (and don’t have T1DM), ring 111 or their GP now for urgent medical attention.

For more information on when to be concerned about raised blood sugar levels, click here.

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