Getting information about type 1 diabetes is crucial if you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed
About type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, it isn’t caused by anything that you did or didn’t do, and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. For reasons we don’t yet fully understand, your immune system – which is meant to protect you from viruses and bacteria – attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, called beta cells.
Insulin is crucial to life. When you eat, insulin moves the energy from your food, called glucose, from your blood into the cells of your body. When the beta cells in your pancreas fail to produce insulin, glucose levels in your blood start to rise and your body can’t function properly. Over time this high level of glucose in the blood may damage nerves and blood vessels and the organs they supply.
This condition affects 400,000 people in the UK, with over 29,000 of them children. Incidence is increasing by about four per cent each year and particularly in children under five, with a five per cent increase each year in this age group over the last 20 years.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
More than 50 genes have been identified that can increase a person’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but genes are only part of the cause. Scientists are also currently investigating what environmental factors play a role.
What is known is that:
Destruction of insulin-producing beta cells is due to damage inflicted by your immune system
Something triggered your immune system to attack your beta cells
Certain genes put people at a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but are not the only factors involved
While there are no proven environmental triggers, researchers are looking for possible culprits, such as viral infections and particular molecules within our environment and foods.
Is type 1 diabetes hereditary?
Around 90 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes have no family history of the condition.
Although other family members may carry the same ‘at risk’ genes, the overall risk of type 1 diabetes for multiple family members is generally low.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
If you have just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes you are probably wondering 'Why me?'. It is important to know it is not your fault
Signs and symptoms
When your blood glucose levels become too high your body will do whatever it can to try and remove the glucose from the blood
The difference between type 1 and type 2
There are three major types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. All types of diabetes cause blood glucose levels to be higher than normal
Type 1 diabetes facts & figures
The incidence of type 1 diabetes is growing at an alarming rate. View the latest figures and links to national public information resources
The honeymoon phase
After diagnosis most people go through a ‘honeymoon phase’ in which their existing beta cells still function, producing some insulin
Talking or thinking about long-term complications can be difficult and upsetting. You might also find it hard to make lifestyle changes that will decrease the risk
Type 1 educational videos
Watch our series of introductory videos to the main type 1 topics including hypos, insulin, the artificial pancreas and encapsulation.
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