Is this topic for you?
This topic has general
type 1 diabetes for people who do not have the
disease. If you want to learn how to manage type 1 diabetes, one of the
following topics may meet your needs:
- Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed, if you have been
told recently that you or your child has type 1 diabetes.
- Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease, if you or
your child age 12 or older has type 1 diabetes. If you have not read the topic
Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed, you may want to read it
- Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease, if
your child age 11 or younger has type 1 diabetes. If you have not read the
topic Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed, you may want to read it
- Type 1 Diabetes: Living With Complications, if you have complications, such
as eye, kidney, heart, nerve, or blood vessel disease caused by
If you are looking for information about
type 2 diabetes, see the topic
Type 2 Diabetes.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a
disease that starts when the
pancreas stops making
insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar-also called
glucose-enter the body's cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, the
cells can't get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the
Diabetes can cause sudden or long-term problems. If the
body doesn't have enough insulin and the blood sugar gets very high, a sudden
and very serious problem called
diabetic ketoacidosis can happen. This can be deadly.
Over time, high blood sugar can damage the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves,
Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it usually
starts in children or young adults. That's why it used to be called juvenile
Type 1 diabetes is different from type 2 diabetes, which
is the most common form of the illness. In type 1, the body stops making
insulin. In type 2, the body does not make enough insulin, or the body can't
use insulin the right way. All people with type 1 diabetes need to take
insulin. Some people with type 2 diabetes also need insulin, but most people
can use diet, exercise, and medicine in pills to treat that illness.
There isn't a cure for type 1 diabetes. But with treatment, people can
live long and healthy lives.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
The body makes
insulin in beta cells, which are in a part of the pancreas called the islet
(say "EYE-let") tissue. Type 1 diabetes starts because the body destroys the
beta cells. Experts don't know why this happens.
Some people have
a greater chance of getting type 1 diabetes, because they have a parent,
brother, or sister who has it. But most people with the illness don't have a
family history of it.