What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic (lifelong) disease that causes a person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) levels to become too high. In people with Type 1 diabetes, their bodies do not make hormones called insulin and glucagon to keep their blood sugar levels in a normal range.

How Common is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in ~18,000 children and teens under age 20 every year. It is most common in non-Hispanic white children and teens under age 20.

What are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?

  • Increased thirst
  • Urinating very often
  • Bed-wetting in children who previously did not wet the bed during the night
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unintended (not on purpose) weight loss
  • Irritability and other mood changes
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is a serious condition that causes high levels of ketones, or acids, in the blood. The body makes ketones when it breaks down fat and muscle for energy instead of sugar. This usually happens when people do not eat for a long time. It can also happen if your child’s body does not make enough insulin. Signs of DKA, a serious complication of poorly controlled Type 1 diabetes, include abdominal (belly area) pain, vomiting, difficulty breathing and dehydration (losing fluids).

Rev. 4/2015. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.