Type 1 Diabetes

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make insulin or makes very little insulin. Without insulin, blood sugar can’t get into cells and builds up in the bloodstream.

High blood sugar is damaging to the body. It can lead to other serious health problems like:

  • Heart Disease
  • Vision Loss
  • Kidney Disease

Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by:

  • An autoimmune reaction - this reaction destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This process can happen for months or years before symptoms are noticed.
  • Certain genes that make someone more likely to develop type 1 diabetes.
  • A trigger in the environment, such as a virus. 

Risk Factors

Risk factors of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Family history - having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes.
  • Age - you can get type 1 diabetes at any age, but it usually develops in children, teens, or young adults.

In the United States, White people are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than African American and Hispanic or Latino people.

Learn more about diabetes risk factors.

Signs & Symptoms

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry, even when eating normally
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts and/or bruises that heal slowly
  • Weight loss—even when eating more

Learn more about the symptoms and how they can defer in children and adults.


You can find out if you have diabetes with:

  • A simple blood test.
  • An autoantibodies blood test - Autoantibodies show that your body is attacking itself. They are often found with type 1 diabetes but not with type 2. 
  • A ketones urine test - Your body produces ketones when it burns fat for energy. Having ketones in your urine indicates you have type 1 diabetes instead of type 2.

Learn more about testing for diabetes.


You’ll need to take insulin every day by injecting it or using an insulin pump. You’ll also check your blood sugar levels throughout the day to make sure you’re staying in your target range as much as possible. 

Type 1 diabetes can be managed by:

  • Following doctor’s recommendations
  • Managing blood sugar
  • Getting regular health checkups
  • Getting diabetes education
  • Getting support

Learn more about managing type 1 diabetes.

Sources: CDC, American Diabetes Association