Skip to main content
New diagnosis

Type 1 essentials – 10 things to know after your diagnosis

A type 1 diabetes diagnosis can happen quickly, and it may feel overwhelming at first. We’ll help you find the information and advice you need to treat type 1 and manage it around everyday life and your health and wellbeing.
Content last reviewed and updated: 11.08.2023

What is type 1 and why did I get it?

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking cells in the pancreas which make insulin (beta cells). Like many autoimmune conditions, we’re not yet clear why this happens. However, we do know that type 1 is not caused by diet or lifestyle, and there’s nothing you could have done to stop it happening.

Find out more about type 1 and learn about our cure research.


What is insulin and what does it do?

Insulin is a hormone that is made by beta cells in the pancreas. When you eat, insulin is released to stop the levels of glucose (a type of sugar) in your blood going too high and becoming dangerous.

When you have type 1 diabetes, your body can no longer produce insulin so you have to inject or infuse it yourself.

Find out more about insulin and how to administer it.


How do I manage type 1?   

In simple terms, you manage type 1 diabetes by trying to keep the amount of glucose in your blood within a target range. Your Diabetes Healthcare Team will tell you what to aim for, but the target range is usually between 3.9-10.0 mmml/L.

When you eat something that has carbohydrate in it, you need to inject insulin to stop your levels going too high. To do this you need to know how much carbohydrate you are eating so you take the right amount of insulin. This is called carb counting.

You need to monitor your glucose levels to see what your levels are. If they’re too low, you need to eat something containing carbohydrate to bring them back up.

Find out more about managing glucose levels.


Should I be aiming for perfect glucose levels?

There are lots of things that can affect your glucose levels as well as eating carbohydrate, including exercise and movement, hormones, temperature, periods, stress and illness. A lot of these factors are outside of your control, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t reach your targets all the time.

It’s important to look after your emotional and mental wellbeing – managing type 1 isn’t just about the numbers on your glucose readings. We’ve got advice and support for you to help managing the emotional side of living with type 1 and how to get connected with others going through the same thing.


What do I do about hypos and hypers? 

A hypo – short for hypoglycaemia – is where your glucose levels go below 4mml/L. They can be dangerous but they’re easy to treat. You need to treat them quickly by eating or drinking something with sugar in it. Many people use glucose tablets, jelly babies, or a sugary drink to bring their glucose levels back up.

Find out more about managing hypos.

A hyper – short for hyperglycaemia – is where your blood glucose levels go above range, usually over 7 to 10mml/L. Hypers don’t have the same immediate risk as hypos, but having high glucose levels can make you feel unwell and over time can cause complications.

Find out more about managing hypers.


What technology can I use to manage my type 1 diabetes?

Most people start off using insulin injections and blood glucose meters to manage their type 1 diabetes, but as you continue your journey with type 1 you may want to explore using other technology.

Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) send real-time information about your glucose levels from a sensor you wear on your body to a receiver or your phone. Flash glucose monitors (also known by their brand name Freestyle Libre) are similar, but they only give you a reading when you scan the sensor with a handset or phone.

Smart pens are the same as regular insulin pens but they record information about when and how much insulin you’ve taken. Insulin pumps are wearable devices that deliver insulin in tiny amounts throughout the day and night. You can also easily deliver extra bolus insulin when you need it.

Hybrid closed loop systems combine CGMs and insulin pumps. They use an algorithm to decide how much insulin to deliver based on the readings from the CGM.

Find out more about type 1 tech and what is available on the NHS in our technology guide.


When do I next see a healthcare professional?

After you have been diagnosed, you will have regular check-ups with your Diabetes Healthcare Team. They will contact you to arrange an appointment. They will run tests to check your overall blood glucose levels and talk to you about how your type 1 management is going. They’ll also check for early signs of complications so that they can be treated.

Find out more about who is part of your Diabetes Healthcare Team and what to expect during your appointments.

Remember, you can contact your GP or Diabetes Healthcare Team at any time if you have concerns about your type 1 management.


Do I have to tell my employer I have type 1?

Whether you tell your employer you have type 1 is completely your decision. You may want to tell them so that they can make reasonable adjustments like providing you with a private space to test your glucose levels or inject insulin. It may also be beneficial if your colleagues know what to do if you need help, for example if you have a hypo 

Find out more about how to manage type 1 at work and what your legal rights are 


Can I still do everyday things like driving, travel and exercise?

Yes. Having type 1 means you may have to do some extra preparation and planning, but there is no reason why you can’t continue to do the same things you did before you were diagnosed.

Find out more about how to manage type 1 around everyday activities like travelling, driving, work, exercise and eating and drinking.


Where can I get support?

Living with type 1 is a journey and there are times you may want some support outside of your clinic and healthcare team. Talking to friends and family and connecting with other people who are going through the same thing can help ease the burden of managing type 1 diabetes.

Find out about where to go for support including online forums, communities and our in-person and virtual events.

Diagnosis stories

Further support and information

Read more
A blood glucose meter which is also known as a blood glucose monitor

Managing type 1 diabetes

Information and support on how to manage your blood glucose levels, count carbs and deal with hypos and hypers.

Read more
A young woman high up on a bouldering course, exercising to help manage her type 1 diabetes

Health and wellbeing

Get information on emotional health, managing your weight with type 1, planning a pregnancy, dealing with sickness and more.

Read more
A man walking his dog

Everyday life

Having type 1 diabetes needn’t hold you back from living your life. Find helpful information on food and nutrition, exercise, work, travelling and more.