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Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Roughly 10 per cent of people living with diabetes have type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes.

What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder; the body attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas which make insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone for our survival. Insulin transports glucose (sugar) from our blood into the cells of our body where it is used for energy. Without insulin it is impossible to use the food we eat as fuel as it is unable to be converted into energy. Type 1 diabetes is not affected by lifestyle or weight. We still do not know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes or who will get type 1 diabetes; it cannot be prevented and it cannot be reversed.

Quick Facts

  • The pancreas no longer produces insulin
  • It is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions
  • About 5-10% of all those with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes
  • Most common onset is between 9-14 years of age, but it can occur at any age.
  • Must be managed by administering insulin either by daily Insulin injections or using an insulin pump, including intensive education to understand the effects of food and exercise on blood sugar levels.

Who Is At Risk?

Type 1 Diabetes is a genetic disorder so the main risk factor for Developing Type 1 Diabetes is:

  • Family history: having a family member-brother/sister, parent, grandparent etc.- that have been diagnosed.
  • One interesting fact is the highest incidence of type 1 diabetes in the world is Finland and Scientists are still not sure why this is significant.


Symptoms include:

  • Thirst
  • Frequent Urination
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Hunger

These symptoms appear quickly, the increased frequency of passing urine, often results in bedwetting in children. Frequent urination is accompanied by an intense thirst; it can seem that nothing seems to quench the thirst. The desire to sleep is overwhelming and sleep is disturbed by having to get up and urinate.

Living With Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is successfully managed with multiple daily insulin injections or with the use of an Insulin pump, a medical device worn which administers insulin through an infusion site attached to the skin. Blood sugar monitoring is an essential part of management of Type 1 diabetes. Blood sugar monitoring involves checking blood sugars several times a day either with a blood glucose monitor and test strips or with a continuous glucose monitor worn on your skin which monitor blood sugar levels continuously without the need for pricking your fingers.

Type 1 diabetes has come a long way in its treatment with new insulins, devices and technology which makes diabetes management fit into your lifestyle, with the achievable aim of living a healthy life without developing complications. The goal is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal range as possible without going too low or too high. It is important for the person with type1 diabetes to choose a paediatrician or physician who has experience in treating people with type 1 diabetes. It is essential that your diabetes team also includes a Diabetes Educator and Registered Dietitian to teach the importance of good nutrition, explaining how carbohydrate counting works and how to make adjustments to insulin doses based on foods eaten, and other important topics such as exercise and how to treat illness and sick days with Type 1 diabetes.

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