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HealthInfo Canterbury

Type 1 diabetes

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

This is because your body is destroying the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. We don't know what causes this to happen.

Someone else in your family having type 1 diabetes slightly increases your risk of getting type 1 diabetes. 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 sugar in your blood over the last 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 urine or blood.

Treating type 1 diabetes

Injecting insulin treats type 1 diabetes by providing the insulin your body can't make. There are lots of types of insulin, and ways of giving it. Your doctor and nurse will find what suits you best.

For information about insulin see Managing insulin.

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

Self‑care for type 1 diabetes

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

It is 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.

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 July 2019.

Page reference: 44405

Review key: HIDIA-21832