Symptoms of type 1 diabetes
are often dramatic and come on very suddenly.
- Type 1 diabetes is usually
recognized in childhood or early adolescence, often in
association with an illness (such as a virus or urinary
tract infection) or injury.
- The extra stress can cause
- Symptoms of ketoacidosis include nausea
and vomiting. Dehydration and often-serious
disturbances in blood levels of potassium
- Without treatment, ketoacidosis
can lead to coma and death.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
are often subtle and may be attributed to aging or obesity.
- A person may have type 2 diabetes
for many years without knowing it.
- People with type 2 diabetes can
develop hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome.
- Type 2 diabetes can be
precipitated by steroids and stress.
- If not properly treated, type 2
diabetes can lead to complications like blindness, kidney
failure, heart disease, and nerve damage.
Common symptoms of both major
types of diabetes:
In diabetes, the body is inefficient and sometimes unable
to use glucose for fuel. The body switches over to
metabolizing fat, partially or completely, as a fuel
source. This process requires the body to use more energy.
The end result is feeling fatigued or constantly tired.
- Unexplained weight loss:
People with diabetes are unable to process many of the
calories in the foods they eat. Thus, they may lose weight
even though they eat an apparently appropriate or even
excessive amount of food. Losing sugar and water in the
urine and the accompanying dehydration also contributes to
- Excessive thirst (polydipsia):
A person with diabetes develops high blood sugar levels,
which overwhelms the kidney's ability to reabsorb the
sugar as the blood is filtered to make urine. Excessive
urine is made as the kidney spills the excess sugar. The
body tries to counteract this by sending a signal to the
brain to dilute the blood, which translates into thirst.
The body encourages more water consumption to dilute the
high blood sugar back to normal levels and to compensate
for the water lost by excessive urination.
- Excessive urination (polyuria):
Another way the body tries to get rid of the extra sugar
in the blood is to excrete it in the urine. This can also
lead to dehydration because excreting the sugar carries a
large amount of water out of the body along with it.
- Excessive eating (polyphagia):
If the body is able, it will secrete more insulin in order
to try to deal with the excessive blood sugar levels.
Moreover, the body is resistant to the action of insulin
in type 2 diabetes. One of the functions of insulin is to
stimulate hunger. Therefore, higher insulin levels lead to
increased hunger and eating. Despite increased caloric
intake, the person may gain very little weight and may
even lose weight.
- Poor wound healing: High
blood sugar levels prevent white blood cells, which are
important in defending the body against bacteria and also
in cleaning up dead tissue and cells, from functioning
normally. When these cells do not function properly,
wounds take much longer to heal and become infected more
frequently. Also, long-standing diabetes is associated
with thickening of blood vessels, which prevents good
circulation including the delivery of enough oxygen and
other nutrients to body tissues.
- Infections: Certain
infection syndromes, such as frequent yeast infections of
the genitals, skin infections, and frequent urinary
tract infections, may result from suppression of the
immune system by diabetes and by the presence of glucose
in the tissues, which allows bacteria to grow well. They
can also be an indicator of poor blood sugar control in a
person known to have diabetes.
- Altered mental status: Agitation,
unexplained irritability, inattention, extreme lethargy,
or confusion can all be signs of very high blood sugar,
ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemia nonketotic
syndrome, or hypoglycemia (low sugar). Thus, any of these
merit the immediate attention of a medical professional.
Call your health care provider or 911.
- Blurry vision: Blurry
vision is not specific for diabetes but is frequently
present with high blood sugar levels.