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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Type 1 diabetes

Looking for more information about type 1 diabetes? We’ve got all you need to know.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose (sugar) level is too high because your body can’t make a hormone called insulin

This happens because your body attacks the cells in your pancreas that make the insulin, meaning you can’t produce any at all. 

We all need insulin to live. It does an essential job. It allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies. 

When you have type 1 diabetes, your body still breaks down the carbohydrate from food and drink and turns it into glucose. But when the glucose enters your bloodstream, there’s no insulin to allow it into your body’s cells. More and more glucose then builds up in your bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.
 

 

What causes type 1 diabetes?

We’re still not sure what causes type 1 diabetes to develop. It’s got nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. But researchers and scientists around the world, including our own, are working hard to find answers. 

Find out more about our research

Is type 1 diabetes serious?

About 8% of people with diabetes in the UK have type 1 diabetes. It’s a serious and lifelong condition. 

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage your heart, eyes, feet and kidneys. These are known as the complications of diabetes. But you can prevent many of these long-term problems by getting the right treatment and care. This can help you manage your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Learn more about diabetes complications.

Managing type 1 diabetes

Managing type 1 diabetes can be challenging, but we’re here to support you. From exercising to carb counting and eating a healthy, balanced diet, making changes to your lifestyle can make a difference to how you feel. 

We’ve also got more information about treatments and keeping your blood sugar levels within your target range, so you can live well with your condition and reduce your risk of developing complications in the future. 

And we’re also here for you if you need emotional support, because we know that diabetes doesn’t just affect you physically. 

Learn more about managing your diabetes.

Can type 1 diabetes be reversed? 

There’s no known cure for type 1 diabetes right now. But our scientists are looking at new treatments called immunotherapies, which could help to prevent, stop and cure the condition. 

And we’re also funding more research into what happens to the immune system in people with type 1, so that we can build on what we already know and find better, more accessible treatments. 

Find out more about curing diabetes

Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes

Before you get diagnosed with type 1, your body will be trying to get rid of the glucose through your kidneys. That makes you wee a lot and is one of the main symptoms of diabetes. Other signs you should look out for include feeling thirsty, going to the toilet a lot and losing weight without trying to.

The symptoms tend to come on quickly – over just a few days or weeks. This is especially true in children. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the signs. 

Learn more about the symptoms of diabetes.

Treatments for type 1 diabetes

Everyone with type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin. Some people will inject it and others may use a pump. Find out more about both of these treatment options so you can decide what’s right for you. 

Some people who fit a certain criteria may also be considered for an islet cell transplant. We’ve got more information about how they work.

Learn more about diabetes treatments

Newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

It can be difficult to know where to get started with your new type 1 diagnosis, but we’re here to help you find the information you need. 

As well as reading through the guidance and advice on this page, why not try our Learning Zone? With videos, quizzes and interactive tools tailored just for you, it’s the perfect way to discover more about your diabetes. 

"She made me feel normal, when my normal had completely changed."

- Laura, on being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Read her story.

Want to know more? 

Whether you are newly diagnosed, looking to improve your diabetes management, or in need of information to support others, we are here to help. We’ve got lots more information about:

Living with type 1 diabetes

Hear from people living with type 1 diabetes as they share their experiences of treating and managing their condition. From learning how to come to terms with a diagnosis, to finding different ways to cope, our collection of personal stories will show you that you are not alone.  

Young people and diabetes

Although it can be diagnosed later in life too, type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes found in children. We know that this can mean you have to make changes to how you and your family live your life, but we’re here to help.  

Whether you’re a parent in need of advice about schools and caring for a child with type 1, or a young adult looking for information about going to university and becoming more independent, we’ve got a range of resources to help you understand more about diabetes and how to manage it.

Older people and diabetes

Diabetes can affect your body in different ways, and you may need to change how you manage your condition as you get older. For instance, your doctor may change your blood sugar targets. 

Find out more about these changes and how they can help you to continue to live well with type 1.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet

What you eat can make a difference to how you feel and how you manage your condition. That’s why we’ve got a huge range of tasty and nutritious recipes ready for you to try. 

Whether you’re cooking up a feast for dinner, or looking for something lighter for lunch, we’ve got you covered. Simply search by ingredient, meal type or dietary requirement and enjoy eating with diabetes.

Travelling with diabetes

Getting diagnosed with type 1 may bring up a lot of questions, especially about travel. We’ve put together some tips to help you feel prepared about managing your condition whilst on the move, and we’ve also got more information about how diabetes can affect driving too. 

Your emotions 

Learning to live with type 1 diabetes can be overwhelming. You may find yourself getting worried or stressed, or you might not know what to feel. Our information about diabetes and emotions will help you through this time and show you that whatever you’re feeling, you are not alone. 

Differences between type 1 and type 2 

Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes have some similarities, there are many ways in which they are different too. Find out more about these differences and why it’s important to understand both types of the condition. 

Diabetes research

We’ve led pioneering research into diabetes for the last 80 years, and we’re continuing to make progress across a huge range of projects and trials. Find out more about the impact of our research and how it’s helping us in our fight for a world where diabetes can do no harm. 

Diabetes technology

Using technology to manage diabetes can be life-changing for some people, but we know it can be hard to know where to begin. 

Our guidance about diabetes technology will help you to understand more about what’s available and what the different types of tech do, so you can find what’s right for you. 

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