Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition and often starts in childhood. It affects around one in 10 people in the UK who have diabetes – that’s around 400,000 people.
Glucose gives you energy and helps your body function. When it can’t be absorbed into your body's cells, it just builds up in your bloodstream. It can make you feel exhausted and cause other long-term health problems. These include damage to your heart, eyes, feet and kidneys.
There is also a risk of serious acute health problems, such as:
Although it can’t be cured, your diabetes symptoms can be managed by monitoring your blood glucose levels and regularly injecting insulin.
Signs of diabetes include feeling very tired and extremely thirsty. You might also need to urinate more than usual, especially at night. Other Type 1 diabetes symptoms include:
If you’re worried about your symptoms, you should arrange to see your GP as soon as possible.
Your GP will talk to you about your symptoms and carry out blood tests to check your glucose levels. These may include:
If the tests show you have diabetes, your GP may carry out more tests to identify whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
It’s not known exactly why you get Type 1 diabetes. It happens when your immune system, which usually fights disease, attacks cells in your pancreas so they can’t produce any insulin.
You may be more likely to get it if you’re an identical twin or if you have a family history of it.
It’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. It can help manage your symptoms and avoid the risk of serious, life-threatening events and long-term health problems.
Your GP will explain how to regularly monitor your blood glucose levels to keep them as healthy as possible. They will show you how to inject insulin into your body or use an insulin pump. They may also prescribe other medication to control your symptoms. You may need to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle.