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Type 1 Diabetes

Comprehensive Diabetes Care

At UC San Diego Health, we recognize the work that adults with type 1 diabetes and their families do every day to live with this disease. Our goal is to equip you with:

  • Evidence-based therapies to live well with type 1 diabetes.
  • The best tools to manage blood glucose, including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors.
  • Education on diabetes management tools and therapies.
  • Accurate, up-to-date information on diabetes and its complications.
  • Responsive and reliable advice for managing the highs and lows of life with type 1 diabetes.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.

The immune system protects us from viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. In autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease or multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy cells.


In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas (beta cells).

Insulin is necessary for survival. Without insulin, the body can’t make use of food energy by allowing blood glucose to pass into our bodies’ cells.

When the beta cells are destroyed, food energy — in the form of blood glucose — stays in the blood, where it can damage the rest of the body. To stay alive, people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin, either by injection multiple times a day or through an insulin pump.


Type 1 diabetes is far less common than type 2 diabetes, accounting for approximately 5 percent of people with diabetes in the United States.

Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed in children, but can come on at any age.

The warning signs are:

Did You Know?

Nearly 1 in every 10 people with type 1 diabetes test positive for antibodies that indicate celiac disease. See how we diagnose and treat celiac disease.

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Exhaustion
  • Hunger
  • Vision changes
  • Sudden weight loss


Diagnosis is typically made with a blood glucose test.

Woman with type 1 diabetes testing her blood sugar.

A diagnosis can also be made with a blood test that checks for certain autoantibodies which indicate that the immune system has begun attacking the insulin-producing beta cells.

Medical researchers suspect that the disease is partly genetic and partly environmental. That means that those who have a family history of autoimmune diseases or type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing the disease.

In addition, there may be a virus, bacteria or other stressor to the body that sets off the autoimmune attack.

Living with Type 1 Diabetes

You are the most important person when it comes to managing your diabetes.

You should know how to:

  • Check blood glucose
  • Adjust food intake and insulin to manage blood sugar during exercise, travel, and times of stress and illness
  • Recognize and treat hypoglycemia

What we provide:

  • Shared medical appointments for more quality time with diabetes experts, and the opportunity to learn from others living with type 1 diabetes
  • Multiple clinic locations in San Diego and Encinitas
  • Diabetes education classes in a group or individual setting for adults newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. ​bulletSee our Diabetes Self-Management Clinic.

The Type 1 Diabetes Community

People living with type 1 diabetes in San Diego (or raising children with the condition) have access to support and community networks. Living with chronic disease takes 24/7 attention – something even doctors forget.

We encourage people with type 1 diabetes to stay empowered to manage the disease and learn from other people living with the condition.

Diabetes-related Resources

What's it's Like to Have Diabetes: A Doctor's Perspective

Jeremy Pettus, MD, an endocrinologist at UC San Diego Health, shares his experience of having diabetes since age 15 and how it affects his approach with patients.

Appointments and Referrals



La Jolla


Meet Our Specialists

Shared Medical Appointments

You can get more quality time with our diabetes experts by participating in a shared medical appointment. Call 858-657-1636 for an appointment.

bulletMore About Shared Appointments

Diabetes Self-Management Clinic

Learn how to effectively manage your diabetes by attending a group or individual session with one of our certified diabetes educators. 

bullet Diabetes Self-Management Clinic

Online Resources For Diabetes

bullet Organizations that are leading the fight against diabetes