Training modules (NHS Scotland)

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (formally referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, IDDM for short, and juvenile diabetes) is a lifelong condition that develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin. In Type 1 diabetes the body is unable to produce any insulin so there is no key to ‘unlock the door’ and the glucose builds up in the blood. Type 1 diabetes is fatal unless treated with insulin.   Nobody knows for sure why these insulin-producing cells have been destroyed but the most likely cause is the body having an abnormal reaction to the cells. This may be triggered by a virus or other infection.

In Type 1 diabetes the signs and symptoms are usually very obvious and develop very quickly, typically over a few weeks. The symptoms are quickly relieved once the diabetes is treated and under control.

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for between 5 and 15 per cent of all people with diabetes and individuals require to inject with insulin daily as well as being encouraged to have a healthy diet and undertake regular physical activity.