Top Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

By Lewis, Sarah, PharmD

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Symptoms are things you feel and experience. The most common symptoms of diabetes are increased appetite, extreme thirst and frequent urination. However, symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person and with the type of diabetes.

Signs are actual parameters your doctor can measure. The signs of diabetes include:

  • Blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or higher after an eight hour fast

  • Blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher after drinking a specific sugary beverage

  • Blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher taken randomly, at any time of day, along with symptoms of diabetes

What Causes the Symptoms of Diabetes?

While there are different types of diabetes, they all have high blood sugar in common. High blood sugar causes the symptoms of diabetes. Symptoms you may have with any type of diabetes include:

  • Extreme thirst, urination and hunger 

  • Fatigue

  • Vision problems such as blurred vision

  • Problems with sores and wounds that won't heal

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

You’ll usually develop the symptoms of type 1 diabetes very quickly and they’re usually severe. In addition to the general symptoms of diabetes, you may also have these symptoms with type 1 diabetes:

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

You’ll usually develop the symptoms of type 2 diabetes slowly over time. Because of this, you may not even realize you have diabetes for quite some time. In fact, many people with type 2 diabetes aren’t diagnosed until other health problems appear. In general, you should start having regular blood sugar screenings once you’re 45 years old.

With type 2 diabetes, you can have the general symptoms of diabetes along with other symptoms including:

  • Impotence, or erectile dysfunction (ED)

  • Frequent infections such as yeast infections

  • Mood changes

  • Odd sensations such as tingling in your hands or feet

  • Vomiting

  • Weakness

Symptoms of a Serious Condition

When your blood sugar levels get too high or too low, you are at risk for serious and even life-threatening complications. Severely high blood sugar can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Coma, seizures, and death can also occur. Symptoms that may indicate dangerously high blood sugar levels include:

Severely low blood sugar levels can also be dangerous. Symptoms of dangerously low blood sugar levels include:

  • Behavior changes, such as aggression, confusion, or extreme irritability

  • Extreme hunger

  • Headache

  • Pounding heart beats

  • Shakiness or passing out

  • Sweaty or clammy skin

Seek immediate medical care (or call 911) if you are with someone who has diabetes and they have symptoms of a serious condition, their symptoms are not responding to treatment, or they have passed out.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Dec. 15, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2013 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.

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