Symptoms of Diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes vary with each person, with age, and with the type and severity of the diabetes. Nevertheless, there are some common patterns in the types of symptoms.

Mild Early Symptoms: The early symptoms of diabetes are very mild. The first phase is often called “pre-diabetes” and may have almost no symptoms at all. There is a gradual progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes. Many people have diabetes without noticing anything except some vague symptoms such as just generally feeling a little unwell. However, symptoms progress over time, usually taking weeks or months with Type 1 diabetes, or taking even longer, months or years, with Type 2 diabetes.

Moderate to Severe Symptoms: As undiagnosed diabetes progresses, the symptoms become more severe. Some of these symptoms include:

Deadly Symptoms: If undiagnosed diabetes is allowed to progress to the final stages, it can be fatal. The concerns are:

Although there are various symptoms of DKA and HHNS that you should review, some of the hallmark symptoms of an impending DKA episode include:

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Back to: « Diabetes

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What are the symptoms of diabetes?

One of the key dangers of diabetes is that it often doesn’t display any symptoms at all, making it hard to diagnose until it’s severe.

Common symptoms generally include:1

Other symptoms that can occur:

For pregnant women, swelling in the hands and face and may also be symptoms of gestational diabetes.

Source: NICHD (NIH)1

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What are the symptoms of diabetes?

People who think they might have diabetes must visit a physician for diagnosis. They might have SOME or NONE of the following symptoms:

Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains may accompany some of these symptoms in the abrupt onset of insulin-dependent diabetes, now called type 1 diabetes.

Source: CDC2

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What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can start quickly, in a matter of weeks. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart trouble.

Source: NIDDK (NIH)3

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Symptoms that your blood glucose levels may be too high include

If you often have high blood glucose levels or symptoms of high blood glucose, talk with your health care team. You may need a change in your diabetes meal plan, physical activity plan, or medicines.

Source: NIDDK (NIH)4

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Symptoms of Diabetes

Some people with type 2 diabetes may not know they have it. But, they may feel tired, hungry, or thirsty. They may lose weight without trying, urinate often, or have trouble with blurred vision. They may also get skin infections or heal slowly from cuts and bruises. See your doctor right away if you have one or more of these symptoms.

Source: NIA (NIH)5

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What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes symptoms are usually more severe and may develop suddenly.

Type 2 diabetes may not cause any signs or symptoms at first. Symptoms can develop slowly over time. You may not notice them right away.

Common signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:

Source: OWH (DHHS)6

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When were you diagnosed with diabetes?

I was diagnosed 11 years ago, when I was 31. I'd felt very tired for a couple of weeks but thought it was from working too hard —I'd done 14 cities in 16 days. So I took a week to decompress but got extreme "cotton mouth" for three days, alternating with extreme thirst and frequent urination. Then one night I drank five-and-a-half gallons of water in about two hours. I knew something was wrong; I knew about diabetes from my father, who had it. I was immediately diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)7

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When to see a doctor

Visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:

Source: NHS Choices UK8

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If you feel thirsty all the time, it could be a sign of diabetes - particularly if you also have other symptoms such as needing to urinate frequently, extreme tiredness (fatigue) and unexplained weight loss.

Source: NHS Choices UK9

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The symptoms of hyperglycaemia may come on suddenly and include:

Source: NHS Choices UK10

Early Signs of Diabetes

“It’s critical to pay attention to your eye health, because eye health actually is a reflection of overall health,” Clayton says. Changes in the eyes, for example, can tip a doctor off that you have diabetes.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)11

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"I had no symptoms at all," she says. "I plead with people to go get checked for diabetes annually. Otherwise, you won't know. And it's not unusual for people to go five or six years and not have any symptoms."

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)12

Symptom Onset of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.

Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.

Source: NHS Choices UK13

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  1. Source: NICHD (NIH): health/ topics/ diabetes/ conditioninfo/ Pages/ symptoms.aspx
  2. Source: CDC: diabetes/ basics/ diabetes.html
  3. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ diabetes/ overview/ symptoms-causes
  4. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ diabetes/ overview/ managing-diabetes
  5. Source: NIA (NIH): health/ diabetes-older-people
  6. Source: OWH (DHHS): a-z-topics/ diabetes
  7. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): magazine/ issues/ fall12/ articles/ fall12pg11.html
  8. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ Diabetes/ 
  9. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ thirst/ 
  10. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ type-1-diabetes/ symptoms/ 
  11. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): 2009/ May/ feature2.htm
  12. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): magazine/ issues/ fall12/ articles/ fall12pg13.html
  13. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ Diabetes/ 

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.