Type 1 diabetes

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What is type 1 diabetes?

People with diabetes have elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels, which damage the body over time if left untreated. 

About 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1. Type 1 diabetes is an ‘auto-immune’ disease, meaning that the body attacks its own insulin producing cells, i.e. the beta-cells, in the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas does not produce any or produces too little insulin, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels. 

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but most often starts in childhood at 7-12 years of age.  

What causes type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. It is caused by genetic factors as well as environmental factors such as infections, certain types of food, etc. 

How is type 1 diabetes diagnosed?

Type 1 diabetes generally occurs suddenly and the symptoms are very pronounced. The diagnosis is confirmed via blood tests and the newly diagnosed person is admitted to the hospital to initiate treatment.  

The blood tests measure glucose levels. It is also possible to measure how much insulin the body is producing. They might also check the presence of autoantibodies suggestive of type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, autoantibodies mistakenly attack the body’s own insulin producing cells, i.e. the beta-cells, in the pancreas.  

What are the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

Typical symptoms include:

  • Thirst
  • Passing more urine
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Mood changes

How is type 1 diabetes treated?

To date, there is no cure.

Type 1 diabetes is managed with a combination of medication, exercise, carb counting and a healthy diet. Patients with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin, either by injection or using a pump.

Contact a specialist

This website is not intended to provide advice or a diagnosis. This website is only intended to provide information. Do you have questions? Talk to your doctor or contact a specialist