Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
This handout is about type 1 diabetes. Type
1 diabetes means that the body no longer
makes insulin. It is caused when the body’s
immune system attacks and destroys the
cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas. It
is needed to move glucose into the cells.
Insulin opens the cell walls and allows
glucose to enter. Once inside the cells,
glucose is used for energy. Glucose is the
fuel that your body needs to function well.
Without insulin, glucose builds up in your
blood. This can cause symptoms of high
blood sugar and cause long-term problems.
The main risk factor is having a family
member with type 1 diabetes. It is more
common in whites than nonwhites. It occurs
most often in young people but can occur at
any age. Of all people with diabetes, about
5% have type 1 diabetes. The cause of this
disease is not clear.
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
Symptoms of high blood sugar can develop
over hours or days. Common symptoms
ξ Frequent urination
ξ Weight loss
ξ Nausea and vomiting
Lab tests will be done to test for diabetes.
ξ A1C test result of 6.5% or higher
(See Health Facts for You: A1C Test
and the Estimated Average Glucose)
ξ Fasting blood glucose 126 mg/dL or
higher. “Fasting” means nothing to
eat or drink (except water) for at
least 8 hours before the blood test.
ξ Symptoms of diabetes and blood
glucose of 200 mg/dL or higher
Since your body must have insulin, you will
need to take insulin every day. Learning
about diabetes and how to treat it will help
you stay healthy. Some of the things you
will need to learn include:
ξ How and when to check your blood
ξ How to give yourself insulin
ξ How to eat healthy
ξ How to balance insulin, meals, and
exercise to prevent low or high blood
ξ How to treat low blood sugars
ξ How to take care of yourself when
The more you know, the better you can
manage your diabetes.
Diabetes Care is a Team Effort
You are the most important person on the
team because your diabetes care and blood
sugar control is really up to you! Care team
ξ Your doctor
ξ Clinic nurse
ξ Medical assistant
ξ Diabetes nurse educator
They will help you learn about taking care
of yourself and help you keep track of
Other members of your care team will
include your dentist and eye doctor. You
might also see a foot doctor, a counselor,
and someone to help you with an exercise
plan. Don’t forget to include family
members and friends who can support you.
ADA. (2015). 1. Strategies for Improving Care. Diabetes Care, 38(Supplement 1), S5-S7.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of
Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services; 2014.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5602