Around 28,000 people in Norway have type 1 diabetes. The disease is caused by destruction of the insulin-producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas. For reasons we do not

About diabetes:
Diabetes mellitus is our commonest metabolic disease. Diabetes is a chronic condition caused by lack of the hormone insulin and/or reduced effect from insulin (insulin resistance).

It is believed that the disease has existed since the birth of mankind. We have accounts of the disease dating back more than 2000 years. Yet diabetes is in many ways still a mysterious disease. The causes of diabetes are a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, but the underlying triggers for the disease have not been established.

The name diabetes means "something passing through", and refers to the large volume of urine passed in untreated diabetes. The word mellitus refers to the honey-sweet taste of diabetic urine.   Common to everyone with diabetes is the fact that their blood contains excess glucose (sugar), so they are basically "too sweet".

know, the body's own defences (immune system) identify the beta cells as foreign elements and destroy them. The onset of the disease often causes severe symptoms so the diagnosis is often made rapidly.

People with type 1 diabetes have to take insulin by injection. Insulin is destroyed by digestive fluids in the stomach and gut, which means it cannot be taken in tablet form.

How many?

Around 28,000 people in Norway have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, unlike type 2 diabetes, is rarely hereditary. Approximately 600 people annually in Norway are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and Norway has the highest rate in the world of childhood diabetes. Each year, around 300 children in Norway under the age of 15 are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Over the last three decades, the number of children diagnosed with diabetes has doubled in Norway.

Where can I get help?

If you have type 1 diabetes, you will most likely be admitted to hospital to receive training in managing your disease. After that you will attend hospital regularly for checkups (specialist health service). Follow-up and a good relationship with your regular GP will also be a great help.

It is important to be aware that you are entitled to training in managing your disease. Your regular GP will be the one who refers you for the introductory course/training. This course is run by healthcare professionals, and provides information about the disease, types of treatment, self-care, coping and your rights.

Coping with diabetes

Everyone with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day. The disease requires scrupulous self-care. It is a chronic condition that never goes away, and which you have to take day-to-day responsibility for. You will be challenged all the time because your blood sugar is affected by many factors. Uncontrolled diabetes, meaning high blood sugar over several years, may result in complications.

Blood sugar testing is an important part of the treatment. Needs and targets for glycaemic control (stable blood sugar level), and how to use the readings obtained, vary from one person to the next and should be discussed with your doctor. Your fasting blood glucose should ideally be between 4 and 6 mmol/l, and preferably lower than 10 mmol/l a couple of hours after a meal. Blood glucose values below 4mmol/l are defined as hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Most people will feel discomfort or have a reaction if their blood glucose drops to 3.3-2.5 mmol/l, but this varies from one person to the next – in terms of both how low your blood glucose is when you have a hypo and how you experience the hypo.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health has published special treatment guidelines for diabetes, and these are also available in a user version.