Learning to recognize the symptoms of diabetes is an important step in detecting the condition early, beginning proper blood sugar control and preventing the onset of short and long-term complications.
In some cases, diabetics don’t experience any symptoms, so routine screening is important if you’re in a high-risk category. Luckily, even when no symptoms of diabetes are present, diabetes is often diagnosed during routine blood or urine tests.
Classic Diabetes Symptoms
Some symptoms of diabetes are common in almost all forms of the disease. These include:
- Blurred vision: High blood sugar levels can pull fluid from the lenses of your eyes, making it difficult to focus clearly.
- Increased hunger: Diabetes causes sugar to remain in the blood instead of feeding your body’s hungry cells. When muscles and organs don’t get the energy they need from glucose, a diabetic will feel hungry.
- Intense thirst and increased urination: The buildup of sugar in the bloodstream pulls fluid from the body’s tissues. This causes intense thirst and the need to drink more fluids than usual. Increased fluid consumption leads to the need for more trips to the restroom.
- Severe fatigue: If your cells aren’t getting the energy they need from glucose, you may feel very tired.
- Weight loss: Even though you may be eating more than usual because of increased appetite, your muscles and tissues may shrink because your cells are not getting the sugar they need.
People with diabetes type 2 may also experience patches of darkened skin, frequent infections and slow healing sores.
Gestational and pre-diabetic symptoms are often absent entirely. People with gestational diabetes may only rarely experience increased thirst and urination, while pre-diabetic symptoms may include difficulty focusing vision, fatigue and increased thirst and urination.
Diabetes in children also sometimes occurs without obvious symptoms. However, many children with diabetes type 1 may experience any of the classic diabetes symptoms, as well as moodiness or irritability.
If you’re experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, your doctor may perform one or more tests for diabetes. Most of these are blood tests that seek to confirm high blood glucose levels when compared to normal blood glucose levels. Doctors often use urine tests to screen for diabetes, since high blood glucose often results in high glucose levels in the urine. Here are some of the most common tests for diabetes:
- Fasting plasma glucose test
- Oral glucose tolerance test
- Random plasma glucose test
- Urine testing.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2001). Diabetes public health resource: Frequently asked questions. Retrieved May 15, 2001, from www.cdc.gov/diabetes/faqs.htm.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes/DS01121.
National Institutes of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (n.d.). Diabetes. Retrieved May 15, 2001, from www.niddk.nih.gov/health/diabetes/diabetes.htm.
Old Dominion University, School of Nursing. (1999). Diabetes mellitus planner: September 9, 1999.