Patient Information about Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, sometimes called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes, usually develops before the age of 30. Diabetes type 1 is a serious, chronic autoimmune disease in which the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin. This type of diabetes mellitus often requires several insulin injections each day to prevent high blood sugar (glucose) levels and cannot be controlled through diet, nutrition, and exercise.

Type 1 diabetes usually develops suddenly and causes severe symptoms. Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, and confusion. Breath that smells fruity is a common sign of diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious complications, including organ damage, so it is very important for people with diabetes type 1 to monitor and manage their blood sugar levels carefully.

Here are some questions to ask your or your child's doctor or certified diabetes educator (C.D.E.) about type 1 diabetes. Print this page, note the questions you would like answered, and take it with you to your next appointment. The more knowledge you have about diabetes, the easier it will be to make important decisions about managing diabetes.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Type 1 Diabetes

  • What is type 1 diabetes mellitus?
  • Why do you suspect that I or my child has type 1 diabetes?
  • What causes diabetes type 1?
  • What other conditions might be causing these symptoms?
  • How is type 1 diabetes usually diagnosed?
  • What kind of diagnostic tests will be performed?
  • What are the risks, benefits, and possible complications associated with these tests?
  • How long after these tests will I be able to return to my normal activities?
  • Is there a cure for type 1 diabetes?
  • How is type 1 diabetes managed?
  • Does diabetes treatment require lifestyle changes? Will certain foods need to be restricted?
  • How will this condition affect my or my child's daily life? Will I be able to work? Will my child be able to attend school?
  • Does having diabetes increase the risk for other diseases? If so, what diseases?
  • How can these risks be reduced?
  • What kind(s) of medical specialist(s) will be involved in my or my child's medical care?
  • What is a certified diabetes educator (C.D.E.)?
  • How will my or my child's type 1 diabetes be monitored?

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

  • What does testing blood sugar levels involve?
  • How will I know if my child is ready to test and manage his/her own blood sugar?
  • How often should blood sugar levels be tested?
  • What should my or my child's blood sugar level be?
  • What should I do if my or my child's blood sugar is too low? Too high?
  • What special precautions are necessary as a result of having type 1 diabetes?
  • What symptoms indicate a serious complication of diabetes or a related condition?
  • Might meeting with a nutritionist or dietician be helpful?

    Name of Nutritionist/Dietician: Telephone number to call:

  • Might my or my child's type 1 diabetes require medication(s) other than insulin? If so, what medication(s) might be necessary?
  • What are the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of these medications?
  • What is the role of diet, nutrition, and exercise in managing type 1 diabetes?
  • What kinds of exercise and how much daily exercise do you recommend?
  • Are there any types of exercise that should be avoided?
  • Do you recommend wearing a medical alert bracelet or carrying a medical card to notify other people of my or my child's condition in case of an emergency?
  • What should I do if I or my child gets sick with a cold or flu?
  • How might getting older affect type 1 diabetes?
  • Do you recommend participation in a clinical trial for patients who have type 1 diabetes? Why or why not?

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 20 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015