Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, only 5 percent of people with diabetes have been diagnosed with type 1, by far the least common form of the disease. In this lifelong condition, the pancreas, a large organ behind the stomach, stops producing a hormone known as insulin. Insulin’s job is to break down the carbohydrates you eat and turn them into glucose, or “blood sugar.” The glucose travels through the bloodstream, providing energy and nourishment. Without insulin to let glucose into the cells, the body is literally starving for energy. Meanwhile, excess glucose can’t be broken down, so it accumulates in the bloodstream where it can cause serious damage.

Woman giving herself insulin.People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections to survive. For this reason, type 1 diabetes is sometimes also called “insulin-dependent” diabetes. Another name you may hear for type 1 diabetes is “juvenile diabetes” because the condition is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults.

Scientists are still working to identify the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, but it is classified as an autoimmune disease. In most people with this form of diabetes, the body's own immune system starts destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Several factors may contribute to this, including genetics and certain viruses.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Once the pancreas stops producing insulin, the symptoms or type 1 come on very rapidly and typically include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Bedwetting (in children who no longer wet the bed during the night)
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Irritability and other mood changes
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Vaginal yeast infections in women

Consult your doctor right away if you, or your child, develop any of these symptoms.

Newly Diagnosed—Type 1

If you have just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you’ve been experiencing symptoms. Maybe you had to go to the emergency room. Perhaps you were even hospitalized.

The truth is, unmanaged type 1 has clear, rapid, life-threatening consequences. You have to follow your treatment team’s recommendations as though your life depends on it—because it literally does. There’s a learning curve to managing type 1 diabetes, but you will be surprised at how quickly your daily regimen becomes second nature.

There are four components to the effective management of type 1 diabetes:

  • Blood Glucose Control and Insulin Management
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Support


  1. ADA: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/