What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Diabetes UK

Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose (sugar) level is too high because your body can’t make a hormone called insulin.

This happens because your body attacks the cells in your pancreas that make the insulin, meaning you can’t produce any at all.

We all need insulin to live. It does an essential job. It allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies.

When you have type 1 diabetes, your body still breaks down the carbohydrate from food and drink and turns it into glucose. But when the glucose enters your bloodstream, there’s no insulin to allow it into your body’s cells. More and more glucose then builds up in your bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.

What causes type 1 diabetes?

We’re still not sure what causes type 1 diabetes to develop. It’s got nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. But researchers and scientists around the world, including our own, are working hard to find answers.

Is type 1 diabetes serious?

About 8% of people with diabetes in the UK have type 1 diabetes. It’s a serious and lifelong condition.

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage your heart, eyes, feet and kidneys. These are known as the complications of diabetes. But you can prevent many of these long-term problems by getting the right treatment and care. This can help you manage your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Learn more about diabetes complications.

Managing type 1 diabetes

Managing type 1 diabetes can be challenging, but we’re here to support you. From exercising to carb counting and eating a healthy, balanced diet, making changes to your lifestyle can make a difference to how you feel.

We’ve also got more information about treatments and keeping your blood sugar levels within your target range, so you can live well with your condition and reduce your risk of developing complications in the future.

And we’re also here for you if you need emotional support, because we know that diabetes doesn’t just affect you physically.

Can type 1 diabetes be reversed?

There’s no known cure for type 1 diabetes right now. But our scientists are looking at new treatments called immunotherapies, which could help to prevent, stop and cure the condition.

And we’re also funding more research into what happens to the immune system in people with type 1, so that we can build on what we already know and find better, more accessible treatments. Find out more about curing diabetes.

Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes

Before you get diagnosed with type 1, your body will be trying to get rid of the glucose through your kidneys. That makes you wee a lot and is one of the main symptoms of diabetes. Other signs you should look out for include feeling thirsty, going to the toilet a lot and losing weight without trying to.

The symptoms tend to come on quickly – over just a few days or weeks. This is especially true in children. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the signs. Learn more about the symptoms of diabetes.

Treatments for type 1 diabetes

Everyone with type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin. Some people will inject it and others may use a pump. Find out more about both of these treatment options so you can decide what’s right for you.

Some people who fit a certain criteria may also be considered for an islet cell transplant. We’ve got more information about how they work. Learn more about diabetes treatments

Newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

It can be difficult to know where to get started with your new type 1 diagnosis, but we’re here to help you find the information you need.

As well as reading through the guidance and advice on this page, why not try our Learning Zone? With videos, quizzes and interactive tools tailored just for you, it’s the perfect way to discover more about your diabetes.

Want to know more? Click here.

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