Type 1 Diabetes

The following is basic information about type one diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when there is too much sugar in your blood and not enough insulin.

Is there a cure for diabetes?

No. People with diabetes must take insulin because their body does not make insulin on it’s own.

Can I do something else instead of taking insulin?

No. No form of herbal or alternative medicine will cure or treat diabetes. The only treatment for type one diabetes is to take insulin.

Why do my family and I need to learn about diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong disease. Diabetes is with you 24 hours a day. Like your regular need for food, type one diabetes also requires daily attention. Learn about diabetes now so that as an adult you can take charge of your own diabetes and make healthy decisions for yourself,  and so that you can continue to live a normal life.

Where does the sugar in blood come from?

Sugar comes from two sources:

1. Internal Sugar comes from liver, muscle and fat stores in your body. This is called basal sugar.


2. External sugar comes from food that you eat. Food enters the bloodstream and is called glucose. This is called bolus sugar.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by a gland in your body called the pancreas.

What does insulin do?

Insulin is the medicine that a person with diabetes has to inject themselves with to control their blood sugar. Insulin is like a key that allows food to enter your body cells to produce energy for daily living, just as the key to a car allows fuel to run the motor.

What happens in your body when you have diabetes?

Without insulin from your pancreas, sugar from food cannot enter your body cells to produce energy. Sugar builds up in your blood causing diabetes. You may feel sick if your sugar is too high or low, which the symptoms of are described within this site.

How does high blood sugar hurt you?

When sugar builds up in your blood because the insulin “key” is not available to carry the sugar into your cells, you feel weak and hungry, and lose weight. Your kidneys try to get rid of the high blood sugar through urine, so you go to the bathroom often. With too much urination, you feel thirsty all the time. Lack of insulin results in formation of ketones from the fat stores in your body. Build-up of ketones in the blood causes a stomach ache, vomiting, difficulty breathing and feeling sleepy and tired. If not treated in time with insulin, this build-up of sugar and ketones can result in a coma and even death.

How do you know you have diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive Urination
  • Sticky Urine
  • Excessive Hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme weakness


Any child with these symptoms should see a doctor and get a blood test immediately.

Are there different types of diabetes?

There are three main types of diabetes.

Type-1 diabetes:
  • Usually occurs in children
  • The cause is unknown
  • It is like an accident
  • It is not catching
  • It is not caused by eating too much sugar
  • Children with type one diabetes are normal
  • When a child’s pancreas stops making insulin, he or she will need insulin injections for life.
Type-2 diabetes:
  • Usually occurs in adults
  • May be treated with tablets of Oral Hypoglycemic Agent (OHA) at first but may need insulin injection when the tablets stop working.
Gestational Diabetes:

Diabetes that occurs for the first time during pregnancy and usually disappears after the birth of the baby.

However both the mother and the child are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their life.


Information and images from www.penpalsunited.org are from or inspired by Living the Sweet Life with Diabetes: The Art of balancing insulin, diet, and exercise by Dr. Santosh Gupta, MD, MRCP (UK), CDE.  You can access the book here: http://manavseva.org/downloads/book-english.pdf

The Penpals United website does not contain medical advice.  Any contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material, are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice.  Such contents are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.