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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Type 1 diabetes

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You develop type 1 diabetes if your body doesn't make enough insulin.

This is because your body destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. We do not know what causes this to happen.

Someone else in your family having type 1 diabetes slightly increases your risk of getting it. Type 1 diabetes usually starts in childhood, but it can happen in any age group from babies to elderly.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes

The main symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

Diagnosing type 1 diabetes

A blood test called HbA1c measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood over the previous two to three months. You have diabetes if your HbA1c results are higher than 50.

A finger-prick blood test using a blood glucose meter checks your blood glucose.

You may also be tested for ketones in your wee (urine) or blood.

Self‑care for type 1 diabetes

Checking your blood glucose regularly will help control your diabetes and avoid low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia).

It's important to eat well to reduce your risk of serious complications, such as heart disease. A dietitian can help you develop an eating plan that suits your lifestyle and manages your diabetes. You can learn more on Diabetes New Zealand's page, Food and Nutrition for Type 1 Diabetes.

Staying physically active will reduce your risk of serious complications.

Treating type 1 diabetes

Injecting insulin treats type 1 diabetes by providing the insulin your body cannot make. There are lots of types of insulin and methods of taking it. Your doctor and nurse will find the type and method that suits you best.

For information about insulin see managing insulin.

You'll also need regular check‑ups for complications of diabetes, and you'll need treatment if you develop the complications.

Getting help for type 1 diabetes

The following health care professionals can help:

For support and information, see:

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2022.


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