Ahead of Diabetes Awareness week (10-16 June) JDRF is hosting a 'discovery' event focussed on type 1 diabetes on Saturday 11 May at UU Magee Campus 09:30 - 15:00. Whether you're newly diagnosed or have been living with type 1 for years, this event is designed to provide valuable insights, support and inspiration as well as showcasing exciting technology which can improve lives for people with type 1 diabetes. 

But what if you don't know anything about type 1 diabetes. Here are the essentials you should know:

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking cells in the pancreas which make insulin (beta cells). Like many autoimmune conditions, we’re not yet clear why this happens. However, we do know that type 1 is not caused by diet or lifestyle, and there’s nothing you could have done to stop it happening.

What is insulin and what does it do?

Insulin is a hormone that is made by beta cells in the pancreas. When you eat, insulin is released to stop the levels of glucose (a type of sugar) in your blood going too high and becoming dangerous. When you have type 1 diabetes, your body can no longer produce insulin so you have to inject or infuse it yourself.

How do you manage type 1? 

In simple terms, you manage type 1 diabetes by trying to keep the amount of glucose in your blood within a target range. When you eat something that has carbohydrate in it, you need to inject insulin to stop your levels going too high. If they’re too low, you need to eat something containing carbohydrate to bring them back up.