Diabetes: Symptoms

By Spader, Catherine RN

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms can vary among individuals and the type of diabetes. Common symptoms include excessive thirst and excessive urination.

Type 1 diabetes generally develops quickly, often in children, and symptoms can be severe and occur suddenly. In contrast, type 2 diabetes generally develops gradually from a condition called prediabetes, and symptoms may not occur or be noticeable for years.

Pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes often do not have symptoms, but they may experience excessive thirst and excessive urination.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Excessive hunger

  • Feeling very thirsty

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Frequent urination

  • Irritability and mood changes

  • Severe fatigue

  • Vomiting

  • Weight loss

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Any of the type 1 diabetes symptoms above

  • Blurred or changing vision

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Frequent infections, especially yeast or fungal infections

  • Slow-healing wounds or bruises

  • Tingling or other unusual sensations in the hands or feet

  • Weakness

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

Symptoms of diabetes that can indicate a dangerous change in your blood sugar level or a life-threatening complication, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, can occur suddenly and rapidly.

Symptoms of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and diabetic ketoacidosis include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Confusion

  • Dry skin and mouth

  • Frequent urination

  • Severe thirst

  • Shortness of breath

  • Smell of fruit on the breath

  • Vomiting

  • Weakness

Symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) include:

  • Aggressive behavior

  • Confusion

  • Extreme irritability

  • Feeling shaky or faint

  • Headache

  • Hunger

  • Pounding heart (palpitations)

  • Sweating or clammy skin

  • Trembling

Very high or low blood sugar levels that remain untreated can lead to:

  • Loss of consciousness and coma

  • Seizures

  • Death

Get immediate help (call 911) if you are with someone who has diabetes and who is exhibiting any life-threatening symptoms or has passed out.


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a general term for a group of metabolic disorders that affect the body’s ability to process and use sugar (glucose) for energy. Normally when you eat, the pancreas, an organ located in the upper abdomen, produces the hormone insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells where it can be used for energy and growth. With diabetes, either the pancreas produces too little or no insulin, or the body’s cells don’t respond to the insulin.... Read more about diabetesintroduction


What causes diabetes?

The cause of diabetes varies depending on the type of diabetes.... Read more about diabetescauses


How is diabetes treated?

At this time, there is no cure for diabetes. With regular medical care and consistent compliance with treatment, you can manage diabetes to minimize the risk of serious complications, such as diabetic retinopathy, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.... Read more about diabetestreatments

Medical Reviewer: Williams, Robert MD Last Annual Review Date: Dec 20, 2010 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Your Guide to Diabetes