Key Points about Type 1 Diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, a hormone required to perform bodily processes.
  • The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes involves blood tests that check blood sugar levels.
  • Treatment for type 1 diabetes is life-long and includes the administration of insulin, tracking foods eaten and exercising regularly.

Overview

Type 1 diabetes – also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes – occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Your body’s cells need insulin to produce energy. Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in late childhood or adolescence, though it can occur at any age.

Type 1 diabetes causes

Researchers don’t know the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, but they believe that genetics or exposure to viruses and other environmental factors may play a role.

Type 1 diabetes risk factors

Certain risk factors can raise your risk for being diagnosed with this condition, such as:

  • Being between the ages of 4 and 7 years, or between the ages of 10 and 14 years
  • Having a close family member (parent or sibling) with type 1 diabetes
  • Living further away from the equator

Type 1 diabetes symptoms

The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes typically come on quickly, and can include:

  • Bed-wetting in children who have not previously been bed-wetters
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urgency to urinate
  • Increased hunger and thirst
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness

Type 1 diabetes diagnosis

The glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test measures your average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. The A1C test is a fairly definitive test for this condition. If you can’t undergo the A1C test for some reason, your doctor may recommend you under a random blood sugar test or fasting blood sugar test to confirm your diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes treatment

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that requires life-long monitoring and treatment. Treatment will include:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Monitoring your blood sugar levels
  • Taking insulin (either by mouth or by implanted pump)
  • Tracking your carbohydrate, fat and protein intake

When to seek care

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing an endocrinologist for more specialized treatment.