Type 1 diabetes | type 1diabetes management

What is type 1 diabetes?

In type 1 diabetes, insulin production is severely impaired. This is due to a fault in the immune system, type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder. For reasons still unknown, cells of the immune system attack and damage the beta cells in the pancreas. The body is then unable to produce enough insulin for its own use. This shortage of insulin produces the typical symptoms of diabetes: frequent urination and drinking, weight loss and loss of energy. Increased blood sugar levels are measured in the blood.

Anyone can get type 1 diabetes. Often the disease starts at a young age. A less healthy lifestyle - as with type 2 diabetes - has nothing to do with it! Type 1 diabetes is much less common than type 2, but has a much greater impact on a person's life and that of his or her close relatives. An estimated 100,000 people in the Netherlands have type 1 diabetes, of which an estimated 7,000 are children and young people aged 0 to 20 years. The number of people with type 1 diabetes is increasing by 3.8% per year in the Netherlands. Diabeter has a total of over 3,000 people under treatment for type 1 diabetes.

Much research is being done into the causes of the development of type 1 diabetes and why the number of people with this condition is increasing. Diabeter plays an active role in scientific research into type 1 diabetes. Not only do we want to provide the best diabetes care, we also want to innovate and improve diabetes care through research. 


Glucose is the important fuel for all body cells. Every time you eat carbohydrates, a sandwich for example, the body will eventually convert these carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose (sugar) enters your blood. From your blood, the glucose is absorbed into your body cells. The glucose is the energy supplier for the body cells, it gives you the energy to move, exercise and play. Just like a car needs gasoline to run. There are many body processes that make sure there is always enough glucose in the blood, even when you don't eat. Then, for example, our bodies can make glucose from other substances (fats, stored carbohydrates, proteins).


The glucose that the cells need is carried around through our blood. For our body functions, the glucose level in the blood must remain within narrow limits. Our body regulates this through hormones. One of the most important hormones is insulin, which is made in the so-called beta cells. These beta cells are located in the pancreas in small groups of cells, the islets of Langerhans. Insulin allows glucose to be absorbed from the blood into the cells and used for energy. It acts like a key on the door, allowing glucose to enter the cell. This allows a muscle cell to move, a brain cell to think and a defense cell to defend you. Without insulin, hardly any energy gets to all those cells; it is the main regulator of our body's engine.

Insulin is the key to glucose. Without insulin, the cell doors stay closed and glucose continues to circulate in the blood. Your kidneys will try to lower the high glucose level by urinating the glucose out. You become tired because your body cells do not receive an energy supply and cannot perform their functions properly. Also, the much too high glucose level in your blood causes complications throughout the body, both in the short and long term.

So you can't do without insulin. If your pancreas can no longer make its own insulin, then from now on you must have it administered through a hypodermic needle or insulin pump. Without treatment, i.e. without insulin, far too many sugars remain in the blood. When the blood sugar is really high, a person can be quite ill, faint or even go into a coma.

What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

It is important to see your doctor quickly if you suspect type 1 diabetes. He or she can quickly determine whether you or your child have type 1 diabetes. There are a number of signs that could possibly point to type 1 diabetes. We have listed the symptoms of type 1 diabetes:

  • Very thirsty and urinating a lot
  • losing weight while the appetite is good
  • weakness / muscle pain
  • being very tired and / or irritable
  • blurred vision
  • nausea or vomiting

Do you recognize many of these symptoms of diabetes? If so, see your doctor quickly. Your family doctor can quickly measure the level of your (child's) blood sugar via a test with one drop of blood. 

For urgent medical consultations and for the start of care, your general practitioner can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week via our emergency line (tel. 088-2807277). He or she will then immediately speak to a medical specialist or diabetes nurse specializing in diabetes. The same day, treatment will start for both children and adults.

Timely recognition of type 1 diabetes is of vital importance

It is very important to recognize type 1 diabetes quickly, especially in children. Unlike in adults, the disease can become dangerous very quickly in children: in the space of four yet eight hours, children can go from "a little sick" to comatose. This is what happens in diabetic keto-acidosis (DKA). This is a serious syndrome that requires prompt treatment by a physician. 

In diabetic keto-acidosis, glucose stays around in the blood for a long time. The body cannot convert the glucose into energy because there is too little or no insulin. Therefore, the body switches to a "plan b": it taps into other sources of energy by tapping into fat reserves. Ketones are released during fat burning, which acidify the blood. A serious acidification is called keto-acidosis. Immediate medical intervention is then necessary!

What are the symptoms of diabetic keto-acidosis?

  • Unmeasurable high blood sugar
  • Rapid breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting