Information for the public
What is type 1 diabetes?
People with diabetes have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. People with type 1 diabetes are unable to make insulin in their bodies – insulin is the hormone that controls how much glucose is in the blood. Type 1 diabetes can start at any age, although it usually appears before the age of 50. It is a lifelong condition and has to be treated with insulin therapy.
A person may not realise that they have type 1 diabetes. The symptoms include feeling very thirsty, urinating more often than usual and feeling very tired. For some people type 1 diabetes is only spotted when they become very unwell – typically if they develop diabetic ketoacidosis. In this case they will need immediate treatment in hospital.
People with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of long‑term health problems. These include conditions affecting the eyes, feet, nerves and kidneys, as well as cardiovascular disease (disease of the heart and blood vessels). If you have type 1 diabetes it is important to keep your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible and to have a healthy lifestyle, to reduce this risk.