What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes (or diabetes mellitus) is a life-long autoimmune disease that usually occurs in childhood but can be diagnosed at any age. Type 1 diabetes affects over 122,300 people in Australia alone.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system mistakenly turning on itself, destroying beta cells within the pancreas and removing the body's ability to produce insulin. Insulin allows the body to process sugar to create energy, without insulin, the body literally starves as it cannot process food.
Treating Type 1 Diabetes
The goal of type 1 diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible. It sounds easy, but in reality, this is very difficult to achieve.
To stay alive, people with type 1 diabetes must have a constant supply of insulin through injections or an insulin pump and they test their blood sugar by pricking their fingers at least four times a day. People with type 1 diabetes must be constantly prepared for potential hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can both be life threatening.
Hypoglycaemia and Hyperglycaemia
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is a common and dangerous condition for many people with type 1 diabetes. It can be caused by eating less than usual, more exercise than normal or too much insulin administered.
Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) occurs when the body has too much food or glucose, or too little insulin. It can be caused by a clog in insulin pump tubing, missing an insulin dose, eating more than usual, stress or less exercise than normal.
These low and high blood sugar level reactions show the constant balance that those with type 1 diabetes have to endure in their everyday life.
Type 1 Diabetes Statistics
- Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, it occurs more frequently than cancer, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy
- Most newly diagnosed cases are in people less than 15 years old
- Approximately 1825 Australians are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year
- Incidence is increasing at 3.2% a year
In Australia, around 95% of the diabetes found in children is type 1 diabetes
Read more about type 1 diabetes symptoms.
Read more about type 1 diabetes complications.
Read more about research to cure type 1 diabetes.
Insulin is not a cure - only a treatment!
To help JDRF find a cure for type 1 diabetes, you can donate to type 1 diabetes online. No matter how large or small, your gift will help JDRF continue to move research from the laboratory through to a clinical reality for the 122,300 Australians currently living with type 1 diabetes.