Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which there is too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. Your body needs a hormone called insulin to help the sugar move from your blood into your cells, where your body can use it as a fuel. Insulin is made by a gland in your body called the pancreas, which lies just behind your stomach. Insulin is like a key to open doors on the cells - this lets the sugar into the cells where it is used for energy.
Is there more than one type of diabetes?
There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
• Type 1 is when your body is not making any insulin.
• Type 2 is when your body isn’t making enough insulin or the insulin that is made does not work properly.
• Gestational diabetes - Some women can get diabetes when they are pregnant.
What causes Type 1 diabetes?
No one knows why the cells that make insulin have been damaged in the pancreas of someone with type 1 diabetes but this means that you will need to take insulin for the rest of your life.
The most likely cause is an abnormal reaction of the body to the cells. This may have been triggered by a viral or other infection. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood.
It is not caused by
• Eating sugar or the wrong foods
• Stress – though this can make the symptoms worse in someone with diabetes
• Other people – you can’t catch diabetes from someone
Why is there too much glucose in my blood?
Your body needs a hormone called 'insulin' to move sugar from your blood to your cells, where it can be used for fuel.
Insulin is made by a gland called a 'pancreas' and it works like a door key by unlocking your cells to allow the sugar in.
• Doesn't make any insulin, or
• Doesn't make enough insulin, or
• The insulin isn't working properly.
How is Type 1 treated?
Most people take either two or four injections each day. Some people use insulin pumps instead of injections.
What happens if my diabetes gets out of control?
It’s impossible to keep blood glucose levels perfect all the time. However keeping them under control most of the time can greatly help to reduce the risk of developing long term complications like: heart disease, stroke, amputations and damage to eyes, kidneys and nerves.
What does 'A day in the life with type 1 diabetes' look like?
The Mighty DUKs have made this video to show what a typical day might look like for someone with type 1 diabetes. There is a lot of expectation to manage things in a certain way, without the realisation how much effort it takes, and this video encourages people to see us by the effort we put in, not by what the numbers say. We hope you like it!