Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes produces many symptoms, including frequent urination, infections and weight loss. Type 1 diabetes symptoms usually develop more quickly than Type 2 symptoms. Symptoms may also differ between men and women. Contact your doctor if you experience any diabetes symptoms.

Last Modified: June 16, 2022
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Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes has several early warning signs. Noticing these signs in yourself and others can significantly improve the likelihood of an early diagnosis.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Symptoms are largely the same across both types, but those symptoms may present differently in people depending on the type. Men and women may also present with slightly different symptoms.

Some of the most common and universal symptoms of diabetes include:
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow-healing cuts or sores

People who experience any of these symptoms should monitor themselves carefully for further problems.

Contact your doctor if the symptoms persist or return quickly. Your doctor may schedule diabetes testing to confirm whether you have the condition.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Most of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are the same as other types. The difference is the speed with which they appear. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes often come on quickly and can easily become severe. This difference is part of the reason why Type 1 diabetes is usually detected earlier than Type 2.

Some people with Type 1 diabetes also experience stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. This is a result of diabetic ketoacidosis, a severe complication of diabetes that occurs when the body is forced to break down too much fat to access the sugars it needs to survive. You will likely need emergency care to treat the problem.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes produces the same symptoms as Type 1 diabetes. They are usually less severe than those of Type 1, but not always.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes often develop slowly over time, and they may be mistaken for normal signs of aging. This can lead many people to ignore warning signs in the early stages of the condition, delaying their diagnosis. Always take any symptoms of diabetes seriously and discuss them with your doctor, especially if you are at high risk of developing the condition.

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes rarely causes any noticeable symptoms. When it does cause problems like increased urination and hunger, these symptoms are often viewed as typical side effects of pregnancy.

Most women who have gestational diabetes only discover it when they are given routine screenings as part of their prenatal care regime. These screenings are conducted regardless of whether a woman has had any gestational diabetes symptoms.

Gestational diabetes screenings involve a series of blood tests that a midwife or OB-GYN will order. You will be asked to fast for at least 8 hours before having your blood drawn the first time.

If your blood sugar hits abnormally high levels (190 mg/dl or 10.6 mmol/L or higher) on at least one of those tests, you probably will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

If your blood sugar is between 140 mg/dl or 7.8 mmol/L on at least one test, you will be given a new round of blood tests over 3 hours instead of 2.

Diabetes Symptoms in Men

In addition to general diabetes symptoms, men may also experience distinct symptoms. Some men with diabetes do not display any of these symptoms. Likewise, many men with these symptoms do not have diabetes.

  • Muscle weakness
  • Genital thrush
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low testosterone

Always discuss any symptoms you are experiencing with your doctor and get tested for any conditions they believe you may have.

Diabetes Symptoms in Women

Women with diabetes may experience any of the general symptoms of diabetes. In addition, they may also experience:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Sexual dysfunction and reduced sex drive

Not all women with diabetes experience these symptoms. A lack of symptoms does not necessarily mean you do not have diabetes. These symptoms may also be indicators of many different health problems. If you notice any, report them to your doctor for further investigation.

Prediabetes Symptoms

Like gestational diabetes, prediabetes often goes unnoticed and undetected. Many people have the condition for years without experiencing any prediabetes symptoms. Typically, most people aren’t aware they have prediabetes until a pattern of high blood sugar levels during blood testing is observed.

That’s why it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels with routine blood tests. This is especially true if you are at high risk for developing diabetes or prediabetes.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, darkened patches of skin may be an early sign of prediabetes. Although this finding requires more research, it is always a good idea to have a doctor examine any new moles or dark patches on your skin. Mention any concerns you may have about prediabetes to your doctor.

Risk Factors of Diabetes

You are more likely to develop Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes if other people in your family have the condition. Other risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include lifestyle factors like high blood pressure, high triglycerides and a history of heart disease or stroke.

Children and teenagers are more likely to have Type 1 diabetes than Type 2. However, Type 2 is becoming more common among younger people. Either type is possible at any age.

People who are at high risk for developing diabetes should be regularly tested for the condition. It is usually possible to manage diabetes with a prescribed diabetes diet designed with help from a doctor or registered dietitian and a safe exercise plan, but this gets harder as the condition becomes more severe. Early diagnosis is a key factor in achieving a good outcome.

When to See Your Doctor

All symptoms of diabetes are serious, and you should talk about any symptoms you are experiencing with your doctor. However, some symptoms should be addressed even more urgently.

Diabetes symptoms accompanied by nausea, vomiting and stomach pain may indicate a medical emergency. Similarly, cuts and other injuries that do not heal properly can easily get infected and become dangerous to your health. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Symptoms of diabetes may seem mild at first, especially if you have Type 2 diabetes. Always take any symptoms seriously and watch for new ones. If you find yourself suffering from multiple diabetes symptoms, let your doctor know.

If you are at high risk for diabetes, mention this to your doctor at your next annual physical. They may recommend that you be screened for the condition as part of future physicals.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.