It is possible to have diabetes with only very mild symptoms or without developing any symptoms at all. Such cases can leave some people with diabetes unaware of the condition and undiagnosed. This happens in around half of people with type 2 diabetes.1,2
A condition known as prediabetes that often leads to type 2 diabetes also produces no symptoms. Type 2 diabetes and its symptoms develop slowly.3
Type 1 diabetes can go unnoticed but is less likely to do so. Some of its symptoms listed below can come on abruptly and be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or stomach pains.2-4
It is important to see a doctor if there is any suspicion of diabetes or if any of the below signs and symptoms are present - prompt diagnosis and management lowers the likelihood of serious complications.5
The most common symptoms are related to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), especially the classic symptoms of diabetes: frequent urination and thirst. Fatigue related to dehydration and eating problems can also be related to high blood sugars.5,6
The International Diabetes Foundation highlight four symptoms that should prompt someone to get checked for diabetes as soon as possible:1
Common symptoms of diabetes
The most common signs and symptoms of diabetes are:
Excessive thirst and frequent urination are classic symptoms of diabetes.
Have you been going to the bathroom to urinate more often recently? Do you notice that you spend most of the day going to the toilet? When there is too much glucose (sugar) in your blood you will urinate more often.
If your insulin is ineffective, or not there at all, your kidneys cannot filter the glucose back into the blood. The kidneys will take water from your blood in order to dilute the glucose - which in turn fills up your bladder.
If you are urinating more than usual, you will need to replace that lost liquid. You will be drinking more than usual. Have you been drinking more than usual lately?
As the insulin in your blood is not working properly, or is not there at all, and your cells are not getting their energy, your body may react by trying to find more energy - food. You will become hungry.
This might be the result of the above symptom (intense hunger).
Unusual weight loss
This is more common among people with Diabetes Type 1. As your body is not making insulin it will seek out another energy source (the cells aren't getting glucose). Muscle tissue and fat will be broken down for energy. As Type 1 is of a more sudden onset and Type 2 is much more gradual, weight loss is more noticeable with Type 1.
If your insulin is not working properly, or is not there at all, glucose will not be entering your cells and providing them with energy. This will make you feel tired and listless.
Irritability can be due to your lack of energy.
This can be caused by tissue being pulled from your eye lenses. This affects your eyes' ability to focus. With proper treatment this can be treated. There are severe cases where blindness or prolonged vision problems can occur.
Cuts and bruises don't heal properly or quickly
Do you find cuts and bruises take a much longer time than usual to heal? When there is more sugar (glucose) in your body, its ability to heal can be undermined.
More skin and/or yeast infections
When there is more sugar in your body, its ability to recover from infections is affected. Women with diabetes find it especially difficult to recover from bladder and vaginal infections.
A feeling of itchiness on your skin is sometimes a symptom of diabetes.
Gums are red and/or swollen - Gums pull away from teeth
If your gums are tender, red and/or swollen this could be a sign of diabetes. Your teeth could become loose as the gums pull away from them.
Frequent gum disease/infection
As well as the previous gum symptoms, you may experience more frequent gum disease and/or gum infections.
Sexual dysfunction among men
If you are over 50 and experience frequent or constant sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction), it could be a symptom of diabetes.
Numbness or tingling, especially in your feet and hands
If there is too much sugar in your body your nerves could become damaged, as could the tiny blood vessels that feed those nerves. You may experience tingling and/or numbness in your hands and feet.
Symptoms of diabetes - by Mikael Häggström
Diabetes can often be detected by carrying out a urine test, which finds out whether excess glucose is present. This is normally backed up by a blood test, which measures blood glucose levels and can confirm if the cause of your symptoms is diabetes.
If you are worried that you may have some of the above symptoms, you are recommended to talk to your Doctor or a qualified health professional.