November 24


Type 1 Diabetes: Causes, Risk Factors, Signs, Complications and Treatment

By Gabriela

November 24, 2020

Type 1 diabetes is actually a chronic disease. In this type of diabetes, the cells in the pancreas which make insulin are destroyed, and the body is not capable of producing insulin. People should know that insulin is a hormone that helps the cells of our body use natural sugar for energy.

This natural sugar is also known by the name glucose. Our body gets this natural sugar from the food we consume. The hormone insulin allows this natural sugar to pass from our blood into the cells in our body.

Our muscle tissues and liver store extra sugar, also known by the name blood glucose. This is actually released when we need extra glucose, like when we exercise, sleep, or between meals.

In this type of diabetes, the body cannot process sugar because of a lack of insulin. This leads to increased blood glucose levels and might cause long-term or short-term issues.

This type of diabetes impacts around six million Americans. Type 1 is commonly diagnosed in adults who are younger than 30, children, and infants.

Let’s begin by explaining the most common type 1 diabetes causes.

Type 1 Diabetes Causes

The exact cause of this diabetes is unknown. But it is believed that this is an autoimmune disease, i.e. a condition in which the immunity mistakenly attacks the beta cells found in the pancreas.

The beta cells are those who produce insulin. Also, it is unknown why the immunity attacks these cells.

Risk Factors for Developing Type 1 Diabetes

Same as the causes, the risk factors for this diabetes are poorly understood. But, some factors have been temporarily identified.


Type 1 race might be a risk factor. As a matter of fact, this condition is more common in white individuals in comparison to people of other races.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune disorders like celiac disease and thyroid disease raise the risk of type 1.

Family History

In certain cases of this type of diabetes family history might be vital. In case we have a family member who has this condition, our risk of obtaining type 1 increases.

As a matter of fact, several genes have been temporarily connected to this condition. But, still, not everyone who is at risk of developing type 1 actually develops it.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Below we will see the signs of type 1 diabetes.

  • Weight loss in a short time;
  • Excessive hunger;
  • Fatigue;
  • Excessive thirst;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Excessive urination.

In addition, ketoacidosis is a complication of this type of diabetes. The symptoms of ketoacidosis are:

  • Stomach pain;
  • Vomiting;
  • Rapid breathing;
  • Nausea;
  • Dry mouth or skin;
  • Fruity breath odor;
  • Flushed face.

In case one has one or maybe more signs of type 1 diabetes, they need to consult their doctor. However, if people have signs of ketoacidosis, it is crucial to get medical help immediately. Remember that ketoacidosis is actually a medical emergency.

How is This Diabetes Diagnosed?

This diabetes is diagnosed with a series of tests. Taken into consideration that type 1 develops rapidly, people are diagnosed in case they meet one of these criteria:

  • Hemoglobin A1c > 6.5 on 2 different tests
  • Fasting blood glucose > 200 plus the signs of diabetes
  • Random blood glucose >123 on two different tests.

Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes


Those who have type 1 diabetes, need to take insulin on a daily basis. Usually, insulin is taken with the help of an injection. However, some individuals use an insulin pump.

What this pump does is that injects insulin by means of a port in the skin. For some individuals, this is easier than using a needle. Also, it may level out blood glucose lows and highs.

The amount of needed insulin differs during the day. Those who have type 1 diabetes measure their blood glucose regularly in order to find out how much insulin they really need.

Bear in mind that both exercise and diet need to impact blood glucose levels.

Blood Sugar Monitoring

Tracking and checking the blood sugar might help us find out if we are meeting our goals made by our doctor and ourselves.

These trends actually help us understand the way our body reacts to illness, food, medication, exercise, etc. People need to consult their doctor about how and when to check their blood sugar levels.

There are blood sugar monitors that are used for individual tests and continuous sugar-monitoring devices which are used to map out trends. They are also used to alert us in case our blood sugar levels are dangerously low or high.

Exercise and Diet

Those who have type 1 diabetes need to consume regular snacks and meals in order to maintain their blood glucose stable. A dietitian who understands diabetes might help us to have a balanced and healthy eating plan.

Also, exercise helps us lower blood glucose levels. Insulin amounts might need to be adjusted based on our level of exercise.

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

High blood glucose levels might lead to damage to different parts of the body. In case our diabetes isn’t managed correctly, it raises the risk of these complications:

  • High cholesterol;
  • Increased risk of a heart attack;
  • Kidney damage;
  • Eye issues, such as blindness;
  • Diabetic nerve pain;
  • Skin infections, mainly the feet, might need amputation in severe cases.

We hope this helps understand type 1 diabetes better. Those who believe they have type 1 diabetes, must consult a doctor immediately.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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