Although having type 1 diabetes is a "pain" and can be frustrating, two Rotorua women with the disease say it could be a lot worse.

Nicky Bangerter and Shannon Willoughby both found out they had type 1 diabetes when they were 11.

Miss Bangerter said it was a frustrating illness which was "really up and down" and insulin dependent. "It's a pain but I realise it could be a lot worse."

She said everything was a balancing act - making sure the insulin she took was balanced with the food she ate.

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"Everything you are eating is now dependent on how much carbohydrate is in the food."

Miss Willoughby, whose mother also has diabetes, said there was definitely good and bad days. "You can do everything right and it goes wrong."

She said testing, injecting and regulated doctor appointments were all part of it.

Miss Bangerter said the Rotorua Hospital's diabetic team was great and she has received brilliant care while pregnant with her children.

Major thirst was a symptom both women experienced before they were diagnosed. Miss Bangerter said as well as drinking litres a day and going to the toilet a lot, her other symptoms had included significant weight loss and tiredness. She would go to bed at 5pm and sleep right through.

Both women agreed there was a stigma involved with the disease, with many people not realising the difference between the types.

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Miss Bangerter said in reporting of type 2 diabetes, they "just call it diabetes". That led to an incorrect stigma that type 1 diabetics had brought it on themselves, she said.

Miss Bangerter's advice for others with the disease was to not stress too much if they were finding it difficult. "It's important to make sure you do take your medication and just try to live as healthy a life as you can."

Miss Willoughby advised others not to drive themselves crazy trying to make everything perfect.