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Type 1 diabetes

10% of people living with diabetes in Canada have type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Insulin is an important hormone that helps your body to control the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood.

Our bodies produce sugar and also get sugar from foods like bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, milk and fruit. Without insulin, sugar builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy.

Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injected into the body and a healthy lifestyle.

Understanding type 1 diabetes

The cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown. It's not caused by eating too much sugar and is not preventable. Researchers believe that that type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that make insulin. 

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can develop quickly. Most people with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in childhood and early adulthood, but it can appear at any age.

You can manage type 1 diabetes by:

  • taking insulin as recommended (and other medications, if prescribed by your doctor)
  • monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly using a home blood glucose meter
  • eating healthy meals and snacks
  • enjoying regular physical activity
  • aiming for a healthy body weight
  • managing your stress effectively

Getting started

The following links will help you learn more about the basics of type 1 diabetes.

Living with type 1 diabetes

Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and managing the condition is not easy. You can live a long and healthy life by taking insulin and keeping your blood sugar levels in the target range set by you and your health-care provider. 

The insulin treatment your doctor prescribes will depend on your goals, age, lifestyle, meal plan, general health and motivation. Social and financial factors may also be considered. 

Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause complications. Fortunately, good diabetes care and management can prevent or delay the onset of these complications.

You can reduce your chances of developing complications such as blindness, heart disease, kidney problems, nerve damage and erectile dysfunction if you:

  • keep your blood sugar within your target range
  • avoid smoking
  • keep your cholesterol and other blood fats within your target range
  • keep your blood pressure within your target range
  • take care of your feet
  • have regular visits with your doctor, diabetes team, dentist and eye-care specialist

Healthy living resources

Learn the essentials on how to live with and manage your diabetes. As always, consult with your doctor and your diabetes care team to find solutions that work for you.

Get the support you need

Diabetes Canada is here to help provide information and support so that you can live a healthy life. A positive and realistic attitude toward your diabetes can help you manage it.

Talking to other people with type 1 diabetes (or their caregivers) is a great way to learn, and to feel less alone.

Your health-care team is there to help you. Depending on your needs and the resources available in your community, your team may include a family doctor, diabetes educator (nurse and/or dietitian), endocrinologist, pharmacist, social worker, exercise physiologist, psychologist, foot-care specialist, and eye-care specialist.

Your team can answer your questions about how to manage diabetes and work with you to adjust your food plan, activity and medications.

Support & services

We're Canada's largest resource hub for people with diabetes. Familiarize yourself with our programs and services and get the support you need to help manage diabetes.

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