What are the early symptoms of diabetes?

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Dr. Parveen K. Verma, DO
Endocrinologist

Not everybody has symptoms when they are in early phases of diabetes. But if people have had it for a while and they haven't had blood work done to evaluate, they may have some symptoms such as increased thirst, waking up at night to urinate, feeling weak, unexplained weight loss or blurry vision. These are typical symptoms of someone who's had very high blood sugar over a period of weeks to months.

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For many people, diabetes causes no symptoms at all, especially in the early stages. In fact, experts estimate that about 7 million people in the U.S. have undiagnosed diabetes. Early on, signs and symptoms can be vague, causing you to dismiss them or confuse them with other problems. Some people simply don't have noticeably high blood sugar. Others get used to feeling poorly. Even subtle changes in the way you feel can be a good reason to see your doctor. Often, people don't realize how bad diabetes has been making them feel until after they get treatment.

Following are some of the many symptoms associated with diabetes:

  • Frequent urination and increased thirst are symptoms that occur as the body tries to correct hyperglycemia.
  • Increased hunger and weight loss are common symptoms that occur because the body cannot get the energy it needs from food. The carbohydrates consumed are broken down into glucose that enters the blood stream raising blood glucose levels.
  • Body cells look for glucose for energy. However in people with diabetes the cells either aren’t sensitive to the body’s insulin, the key that opens the cell door for blood glucose to enter, or the body doesn’t make enough or any insulin at all.
  • Elevated blood sugars can also prevent the body from healing properly and people with diabetes often experience longer than normal healing times for cuts or sores. 
  • Nausea, vomiting, dehydration, tingling in extremities, vision changes, low energy or fruity smelling breath can also be associated with diabetes. If you have had episodes of hyperglycemia or any of the described symptoms, reach out to your doctor.

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.