Let's learn about type 1 diabetes

Let's learn about type 1 diabetes

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose (sugar) level is too high because your body can't make a hormone called insulin. This happens because your body attacks the cells in your pancreas that make the insulin, meaning you can't produce any at all. 

We all need insulin to live. It does an essential job. It allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies. When you have type 1 diabetes, your body still breaks down the carbohydrate from food and drink and turns it into glucose. But when the glucose enters the bloodstream, there's no insulin to allow it into your body's cells. More and more glucose then builds up in your bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of diabetes

  • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
  • Being really thirsty
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Genital itching or thrush
  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
  • blurred eyesight
  • increased hunger

These symptoms can affect anyone-child or adult. 

Diagnosing diabetes

The only way you can find out if you or a loved one has diabetes is from blood tests that measure your blood glucose (sugar) levels. These can be arranged through your GP. A diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed by laboratory results. You'll usually get the results of your blood test back in a few days. If you have symptoms that came on quickly and you've been taken into hospital, the results should come back in an hour or two.

Testing for type 1 and type 2 diabetes- If diabetes is confirmed by the results of a blood test the type of diabetes you have is usually determined by factors like weight, age, family history and how quickly any symptoms came on. The test results can also indicate if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes even if you don't have it now. If you're being tested for type 1 diabetes then further blood tests can check your blood ketone levels. Following this you may be sent to hospital for further assessment.

Blood tests for diabetes

Non fasting blood tests


An HbAlc test is the main blood test used to diagnose diabetes. it tests the average blood sugar levels for the last two to three months. You don't need to prepare for a HbAlc. It's a quick and simple test where a small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your arm. This is different to a finger-prick test, which is a snapshot of your blood sugar levels at that moment.

You'll normally get the test results in a few days. From these results, your healthcare professional will be able to see if you have diabetes. If you didn't have any symptoms of diabetes prior to being tested, you'll need to have the test again to confirm results.

Random blood glucose test

If you have severe symptoms of diabetes, you may have a random blood test at any time of the day. This is a quick test, through a finger-prick or a vein in your arm. If you have a finger-prick test you'll get results straight away. If you have a 

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