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What is Type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high because your body can't make a hormone called insulin.

Around 10 per cent of people living with diabetes in the UK have Type 1 diabetes. It’s the most common type of diabetes in childhood but it can develop at any age. 

What causes Type 1 diabetes?

We don’t know exactly what causes Type 1 diabetes. But we do know it’s not caused by your lifestyle – it’s an autoimmune condition. This means that your body attacks and destroys the cells that make insulin, so the body stops making it. We need insulin to help move glucose out of our blood and into our cells, so we can use it for energy. Without insulin, blood glucose levels get too high. That’s why everyone with Type 1 diabetes uses insulin to treat their diabetes.


In people who don’t have diabetes, the pancreas makes a normal amount of insulin.
If you have Type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin.
Insulin acts like a key, helping move glucose into our cells. In Type 1 diabetes, there is no key.
Without insulin, the level of glucose in the blood gets too high.



Order printed information

Get your free printed guide about Type 1 diabetes

Join a support group

Meet other people with Type 1 at a local Diabetes UK support group

Get support online

Join our online forum and chat to other people with Type 1 diabetes
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