What Will Happen if Type 1 Diabetes Is Left Untreated?

  • Medical Author:
    Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

    Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Ask the experts

I have type 1 diabetes and I'm so sick of the injections, the diet, the constant glucose monitoring... What happens if type 1 diabetes is left untreated? Can diabetes go away on its own?

Doctor’s Response

Do not cease treatment of diabetes.

Currently, type 1 diabetes cannot be cured.

Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to a number long-term complications associated with diabetes such as

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes you can prevent complications by maintaining a healthy low blood sugar, eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables, and staying physically active.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that people with type 1 diabetes live about 11 years less than average; however, new research also suggests this differential can be reduced with good glycemic control. Most people with type 1 diabetes die from complications of type 1 diabetes such as heart disease or kidney disease. Thus, preventing complications and following a healthy lifestyle that prevents heart disease and controls your blood sugar are the best things people with type 1 diabetes can do to live a long, healthy life.

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Antvorskov JC, Josefsen K, Engkilde K, Funda DP, Buschard K. "Dietary gluten and the development of type 1 diabetes." Diabetologia. 2014 Sep;57(9):1770-80.

Bodin J., et al. "Can exposure to environmental chemicals increase the risk of diabetes type 1 development?" Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:208947.

Frederiksen, B., et al. "Infant Exposures and Development of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: The Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY)." JAMA pediatrics. 2013;167(9):808-815.

Morgan, MP., et al. "Imunogenetics of type 1 diabetes mellitus." Mol Aspects Med. 2015 Apr;42:42-60.

Moss SE, Klein R, Klein BEK, Meuer MS. "The association of glycemia and cause-specific mortality in a diabetic population." Arch Int Med 154:2473–2479, 1994.

Schuppan D, Hahn EG. "Celiac disease and its link to type 1 diabetes mellitus." J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2001;14 Suppl 1:597-605.

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Reviewed on 5/10/2018