Everything You Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes

Everything You Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is an umbrella term for a lot of different types of diseases that affect the pancreas. Most assume there are just two types of diabetes (type 1 and 2), but actually, there are over five types (type 1, type 2, LADA, MDM, MODY, and gestational) which can make it confusing at times to understand what the term means.

The word diabetes comes from the Greek origin “to pass through,” and mellitus means “honey-sweet.” Physicians named it this because of the sugar that was being passed through into the urine of patients with diabetes.

What Is Type 1 Diabetes Exactly?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is not curable or manageable by only diet and exercise (although diet and exercise can have a positive effect).

In every case, the person diagnosed must take insulin in the delivery method of their choice whether it be through needles or an insulin pump is up to lifestyle, resources, and personal preference.

How to Diagnosis Type 1 Diabetes

In a quarter of the cases, the person being diagnosed will be in diabetic ketoacidosis – high levels of ketones in the body. Ketoacidosis is the body’s last way of trying to getting rid of ketones and calls for immediate emergency intervention.

Diabetic ketoacidosis starts with dizziness and fatigue and will eventually turn into nausea, vomiting, and fainting. If left untreated, the person affected will slip into a coma and ultimately pass away.


Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed at a younger, age but anyone at any age can be diagnosed with the condition. It can be genetic, as well as be caused by environmental factors and a possible reaction to certain chemical drugs.

For example, if a father has type 1 diabetes, the chances the child will have it are five percent; if a mother has it, the chances are three percent.

What Are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?

Two of the most classic type 1 diabetes symptoms are extreme thirst and frequent urination.

As somebody who has type 1 diabetes myself, I’d like to emphasize the word frequent. Leading up to my diagnosis I was urinating almost 20 times a day and drinking water constantly.

Every case varies slightly, but those are the two biggest giveaways of type 1 diabetes. Some other symptoms may include increased appetite, weight loss, fruity smelling breath, dry mouth, and fatigue.

Tips for Living With Type 1 Diabetes

When getting diagnosed with any chronic illness one of the best tips, I can give is to stay positive. Your disease isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important to get comfortable, acquainted and become friends with your illness. Negativity and denial will only amplify the worst parts of the disease and start to take over your entire life.


Finding a diet and workout plan that works for you and your diabetes is key. It took me years to find a way of eating that helps my body as a whole.

There are many different ways to eat as a type 1 diabetic that may work for you including low-carb/high-fat, low-carb/high-protein, whole foods plant-based, high-carb/low-fat.

Test Your Blood Sugars Often

At the beginning of a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, test your blood sugar often and look into getting a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or flash glucose monitor (FGM). Knowing what is going on with your blood sugar is vital for making smart food and activity choices.

A CGM or FMG is a great choice because it allows you to see your blood sugar levels every five minutes without pricking your fingers. It also allows you to see trends and predictions on what direction your blood sugar your blood sugar levels are heading. Having one of these devices is like taking blinders off to your blood sugar levels and allows you to make a more informed decision in your day-to-day life.

Remember that multiple things may affect your blood sugars. Food and exercise are the most obvious, but may not always be the reason you’re experiencing unpredictable blood sugar. Some other factors include stress, lack of or excess sleep, dehydration, adrenaline, and hormones.

Find Support and Community

Out of all people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus only about four to five percent have type 1 diabetes. That means that the chances of you randomly having a friend or knowing someone closely with type 1 diabetes are quite slim.

It’s so important to seek out your tribe online, and chances are you’ll find a community of beautiful humans all living with the same struggles as you who are open and willing to talk about issues relating to type 1 diabetes.

I am personally apart of the diabetes community online, and it has brought so much comfort and positivity to my life. There are also ways to find local meetups for people living with type 1 diabetes, usually posted on the websites of larger diabetes organizations. However you go about finding your community, just do it, your mental well being will be so uplifted.

Abigail DavidAbigail David

Abby is a 24-year-old Vancouver native currently living in Toronto, Canada. Over the past 7 years of having diabetes, she has learned a lot about how to harmoniously coexist (for the most part) with type 1 diabetes. She knows that her blood sugar will never be perfect all the time, but knowing that I have the ability to keep it within her comfortable range, and still live a fulfilling, non-restrictive life, is empowering to Abby.

Feb 19, 2019
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