Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 5 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is the least common but most severe form of diabetes. Read more about this disease and current treatment.
Needle and spoon of sugar. Insulin injection.
Type 1 diabetes (also called insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) is the least common form of diabetes mellitus (about 10% of cases) and the most severe.

About 1 in 1000 children develop Type 1 Diabetes by the age of 16. It is a disease resulting from insufficient or no insulin production, usually due to the autoimmune destruction of the beta cells of the pancreatic islets. The body basically fights against the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin.

The onset is sudden, often between the ages of 10 and 16 (hence its previous name, juvenile-onset diabetes). There is a genetic component but a triggering factor, such as a viral infection, causes the disease to develop. It is fatal unless treated with insulin.

Diagnosis

If someone has symptoms of diabetes (eg the passing of urine a lot and being thirsty all the time and sudden weight loss) they can have a blood test called HbA1c (a test that shows what your glucose level is over a few months). If it is over 50mmol it would indicate diabetes.

The other option is to check blood glucose using a blood glucose monitor. This test can be either fasting or random. If someone is tested and they have not eaten for several hours (eg overnight), and their fasting glucose was over 7mmol/L or if it was a random test (not fasting), anything over 11.1 mmol/L would indicate they have diabetes.

Treatment

Present treatments for Type 1 Diabetes include regular insulin injections combined with dietary management to keep blood sugar levels stable. Blood glucose is monitored regularly with testing kits to guard against sudden falls in blood glucose (hypoglycemia).

Genetically engineered yeast or bacterial cells containing the gene for human insulin are grown in culture, providing abundant, low cost insulin.

This article is from the free online

Finding the Body’s Balance: Understanding Homeostasis

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now