What exactly is Type 1 Diabetes?

According to Diabetes Australia, Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. We do not know what causes this auto-immune reaction. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors, there is no cure and it cannot be prevented.

The exact cause is not yet known but it does have a strong family link – having said this, diagnosis can occur in people with no prior family history.

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin and it represents around 10% of all cases of diabetes. Onset is usually abrupt and the symptoms can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness and fatigue and blurred vision. T1D is managed with insulin injections several times a day or the use of an insulin pump. 

The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and it stops making insulin because the cells that make the insulin have been destroyed by the body’s immune system. Symptoms usually are not obvious until at least 80% of the body’s insulin producing cells are destroyed. Without insulin, the body’s cells cannot turn glucose (sugar), into energy.

Without the body producing its own insulin, this means that insulin needs to be self administered. The body cannot survive without insulin.

There are 4 main symptoms of T1D – Thirst, Toilet, Tired and Thinner. They are the 4T’s of T1D. Diagnosis can occur during childhood or as an adult.

Has your child recently been diagnosed? This video helps to explain the condition.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Produced by Diabetes NSW/ACT


Diagnosed as an adult?


What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Diabetes UK

Regardless of the age, learning of a Type 1 diagnosis is tough, especially in the beginning. We encourage you to reach out and seek support – as much or as little as you feel you need.