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What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition that affects individuals of all ages. In this article, we delve into what type 1 diabetes is, its causes, symptoms, and the critical role of insulin in its management.

  • 03 Nov 2023
  • 3 min read

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a condition that occurs due to uncontrolled levels of sugar in the blood. Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic life-long autoimmune disease that prevents the pancreas from making insulin, which is then managed with insulin injections and blood sugar monitoring. This condition is known to be diagnosed in both children and adults. If diabetes is not treated over time, it can lead to serious complications like chronic diabetes which includes type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when less insulin is secreted by the pancreas because the immune system attacks the islet cells of the pancreas. Read on to learn more about what is type 1 diabetes.


Type 1 diabetes explained

Type 1 diabetes is a form of diabetes mellitus that leads to a condition known as hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), which occurs when insulin secretion is low. It is important to treat hyperglycaemia, as it can result in serious health problems including diabetic coma. Doctors suggest a fasting blood sugar test to identify how much insulin the pancreas makes, in the case of a type 1 diabetic patient.

Insulin is an important hormone released by β-cells of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans cells that control the amount of glucose in the blood. Some people have certain genes called HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4, which are linked to autoimmune diseases that are passed on from parent to child, making them more likely to develop type 1 diabetes. A trigger in the environment such as any virus infecting the patient may also play a part in a person developing type 1 diabetes.

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The doctor may ask a person to do a fasting blood sugar test, if they have experienced symptoms like:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Uncontrolled hunger
  • Low immunity
  • More infection than usual
  • Increased heartbeat


The normal functioning of insulin is as follows:

  • Our body breaks down the food we eat (carbohydrates) into glucose, which is our main source of energy.
  • Glucose enters the bloodstream which signals the pancreas to release insulin that helps glucose in the blood to enter the muscle, fat and liver cells so they can utilise it for energy or as storage in the cells.
  • When glucose enters the cells and levels in the bloodstream decrease, it signals the pancreas to stop producing insulin.

Type 1 diabetes also known as insulin-dependent diabetes usually develops in children and young adults, but it has been reported that it can happen at any age. The cases of type 1 diabetes are less common than type 2, which is about 5-10% of the diabetic population.


It is also important to do regular exercise that helps control the amount of sugar in the blood and also helps to burn fat to maintain a healthy weight. With the proper understanding of what is type 1 diabetes, you can definitely take better care of your health.

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