Symptoms and signs of diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes are all related to the high levels of sugar, or glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body., in the bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid., or to the presence of glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. in the urine.

Glucose in the urine draws water with it, with the result that more urine is produced than usual. This leads to a need to pass urine more often, as well as causing dehydrationWater deficiency in the body. and increased thirst.[1]

Intense hunger may also be triggered by a lack of energy. This is because glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. is not entering the cells that need it. Yet despite eating more, the person may experience weight loss and muscleTissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement. wasting (particularly in type 1 diabetes). The reason why this happens is that insulinA hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that acts to lower blood glucose levels. normally reduces the breakdown of fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. and muscleTissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement., so the lack of insulinA hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that acts to lower blood glucose levels. seen in diabetes can lead to increased fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. and muscleTissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement. breakdown.[1]

Symptoms develop more quickly in type 1 diabetes, usually over a period of days or weeks, whereas in type 2 diabetes bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. levels rise more slowly, over weeks or months

In addition, glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. build-up in the lens of the eye can change its shape, and having diabetes can also make the lens very dry. Both of these factors can lead to blurred vision.[1,2]

Furthermore, high bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. levels can have an effect on the immune systemThe organs specialised to fight infection., making you more prone to infections. Added to this, glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. in the urine increases the risk of genital infections such as thrush.[1,2]

Symptoms and signs of diabetes:[1,2]

  • Increased thirst
  • A need to urinate often
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle wasting
  • Weight loss
  • Increased risk of infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites., such as thrush
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased hunger.

Differences in type 1 and type 2 symptoms

There are differences in the symptoms seen with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Learn more about the different types of diabetes.

Muscle wasting and weight loss are seen far more often with type 1 diabetes; they are rare in type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms develop more quickly in type 1 diabetes, usually over a period of days or weeks, whereas in type 2 diabetes bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. glucoseA simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. levels rise more slowly, over weeks or months.

Because of this, the symptoms may be more subtle in type 2 diabetes and sometimes the only problem you may notice is fatigue. In fact, many people who have type 2 diabetes are not aware of it at all. This is why screening can be important.[1]

It is essential that you see your doctor if you have any symptoms of diabetes. Even if the symptoms are mild, you need to get treatment to prevent the development of associated health problems, such as heart disease or kidney disease, at a later stage.

More about the complications of diabetes.

If you have diabetes, it is especially important to recognise the symptoms of having a bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. sugar that is too high (hyperglycaemiaA high level of glucose in the blood.), which results from the diabetes itself. It is also important to recognise when your bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. sugar level is too low (hypoglycaemiaLow blood glucose levels.) - this can be caused by the treatment given for diabetes, which sometimes lowers bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. sugar too much.

High blood sugar

Low blood sugar