What is type 1 diabetes?

Type one diabetes is a disease where the body stops producing insulin. It is usually diagnosed before age 30, but can occur at any time in life. It accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all cases of diabetes.

Blood glucose measurement

T1DM is an auto-immune disease, meaning the body inflicts diabetes upon itself by destroying cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

Because the body produces no insulin, it must be replaced by insulin injections or insulin via a pump.

Blood glucose testing

There is no cure for type one diabetes. One cannot have type one diabetes and later be weaned off insulin. Nor can one shift from type one to type two diabetes.

Diet and exercise can help a person with T1DM to lead a healthy life but they can never replace insulin, which must be taken throughout the person's life.

If a person with type one diabetes were to stop taking insulin altogether, it would quickly lead to a dangerous rise in blood glucose, then a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis and death.

Fortunately, with regular and accurate blood glucose monitoring, insulin treatment, and lifestyle changes, a person with T1DM can lead an active and healthy life.

T2DM

Type two diabetes or T2DM is the most common form of diabetes. It accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Insulin injection

People with T2DM are insulin resistant. Their bodies produce insulin but their cells are unable to use it properly. Type two diabetes is not an auto-immune disease. It does not result from the body's immune system killing insulin-producing cells.

Type two diabetes occurs mainly in adults over 40 (but it is becoming more common in younger people, even children). It is strongly linked with obesity.

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FAST FACTS

Clear, accurate answers to your diabetes questions

1: What is type 1 diabetes (T1DM)?

2: Why is insulin important in the body?

3: What does glucose do in the body?

4: When was insulin invented?

5: Why is low blood sugar a problem?

6: Why is high blood sugar a problem?

7: What causes low blood sugar?

8: What causes high blood sugar

9: Is there a cure for type 1 diabetes?

10: Explain diabetes to a young kid

Diabetes advice

By Alan L. Rubin MD, Type 1 Diabetes For Dummies gives clear, easy-to-understand explanations and advice on living with type 1 diabetes.

This is an excellent choice for busy parents of kids with type one diabetes.

Standard text

By Richard K. Bernstein, Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars is the standard text on living with diabetes, newly revised and updated with all the latest scientific findings. Accurate blood sugar monitoring is the key to successful diabetes management.

Dad's story of type 1 diabetes

Running on beach

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Running shoes

If you are the parent of a child who has just been diagnosed with type one diabetes (T1DM), welcome to typ1diabetes.com. Although I do not know you or your situation, I understand many of your emotions and the questions you want to ask. My teenage daughter has has had T1DM since age 11. She is now 17.

I am not a doctor, scientist, or even a diabetes educator, but I am a concerned and curious parent who wants the best for his child, the best possible life, and the best possible lifelong treatment. I have a passionate interest in the history of diabetes treatment and the future of research.

Living with diabetes

I want to understand type 1 diabetes, what causes it, how to live with it, how to prevent its long-term complications, and how to be a fully supportive parent.

My situation is made difficult by the fact that my daughter lives in Sweden while I live and work in the United States. I have tried to turn this to our advantage.

Health care systems

I can give you insights from the Swedish universal health care system, such as that my daughter receives a very high standard of care. She does not have to deal with insurance companies, nor does she have to buy her insulin, glucose meter, test strips, or other equipment.

Insulin pump

She has access to the latest technology, including an insulin pump, which were provided by the Swedish system at no cost to my daughter or her family.

Living in America, I know this is not the situation here. I have experience of how an insurance-based health care system works, sometimes better, sometimes worse than a universal health care system.

Good and bad books

In wanting to understand T1DM, I have read many of the books: the heavy but informative medical textbooks, the self-help guides -- some good, some awful -- the countless diet guides, and the many useless and frivolous books, promising the earth but delivering very little.

On this site, I will guide you through the jungle of books, giving you tips on the good, and avoiding the bad.

Science photographer

As a science photographer and writer by profession (I work for the Science Photo Library in London), I am at home with scientific subjects, complex detail, the need for accuracy, and clear, concise language.

Like anyone, I can be baffled by bad and obscure writing. I can be confused by contradictory information and false claims. I am annoyed by the books offering a cure for diabetes. They are talking about type 2 diabetes; there is no cure -- yet -- for T1DM.

Unique situations

As the parent of a child with T1DM, I have encountered situations not covered in any of the books.

No book can prepare you for the rush of questions and emotions that follow a diagnosis of T1DM. Everyday, there are questions and situations that the books don't cover.

International travel

One such situation arose on a trip to London with my daughter. It was a Sunday evening, the stores were closing, and my daughter informed me she needed a battery for her insulin pump.

She'd left the spare at my mother's house, 25 miles away, together with her emergency insulin self-injection kit.

Pressed for time

She said she needed a battery within the next hour or so. What to do?

I tried a couple of small stores. All of them stocked batteries, but not the right type.

My daughter was not panicked, but I was worried. I approached a policeman, explained the situation, and asked for the closest big store and the closest hospital in case we couldn't find the batteries.

The policeman asked if we needed to be taken to the store, but that seemed a bit extreme.

We walked there, about 15 minutes away, and yes, they had the batteries my daughter needed. Anxiety over.

Be prepared

I told myself in future I would check and double check whether my daughter had all her diabetes equipment with her on day trips.

My daughter travels a lot, flying to the United States from Europe, so she has good advice to offer on coping with crossing time zones, jet lag, and unhelpful airline personnel.

Sporting life

She is also a very active young woman, who plays tennis and runs. Diabetes has not stopped her from leading an active life.

I am a fitness nut, a runner, skier, and ice skater. I'm 51, keep in very good shape, and have more than a thing or two to share about getting in shape and staying there, including fitness training routines and good diet.

Sharing thoughts

I want to share my insights, talents, and information with those who are interested in what I have to say and offer. By all means contact me by email. Send me your stories and photographs.

This site is going to grow into the best parent-child site on type one diabetes. I have the time to keep growing and improving the site so that it can give you the best, up-to-date advice and information.

Thank you for visiting. Please come back often

By David Hay Jones