What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include feeling tired, losing weight, feeling hungry and thirsty, and peeing a lot. In diabetes there is not enough insulin in the blood. Without insulin, glucose can’t enter the cells, which means that cells don’t get the energy they need, and glucose builds up in the blood. Not enough energy for the cells makes people feel tired and hungry, and they may also lose weight. The body will try to get rid of all that extra glucose in the blood by peeing it out. This means people will need to go to the bathroom a lot and might feel very thirsty.

Constance Brown-Riggs
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Diabetes is often called a silent disease because the symptoms are sometimes so subtle they are easily ignored. But if you have any of the following symptoms of diabetes you should definitely see your healthcare professional for a blood glucose check.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling tired
  • Itchy or dry skin
  • Slow-healing cuts or sores
  • More infections than usual
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sudden vision changes
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Over 80 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Disturbingly, almost one-third of Americans living with diabetes are unaware they have it.

The sudden warning sign of one’s breath smelling like nail polish remover occurs when your body is unable to utilize sugar properly and burns fat for fuel instead. The chemical compounds released during this process are known as ketones. The ketone, acetone—a key ingredient in nail polish remover—produces the telltale diabetes warning sign of fruity-smelling breath.

You may also experience a fruity taste in your mouth that persists even after you’ve brushed your teeth. Referred to medically as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), this symptom can result in a diabetic coma if left untreated.

Additional warning signs of diabetes include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent thirst and urination
  • Craving sweets

If you experience acetone-scented breath or any other warning signs linked to diabetes, schedule an appointment with your physician. You’ll likely be asked to fast for at least 8 hours beforehand so the doctor can check your blood sugar level via a simple blood test. Bear in mind, a healthy fasting blood sugar level is between 70 and 100 mg/dl; a reading over 200 mg/dl may signal diabetes.

Eric Olsen
Fitness Specialist

All types of diabetes have the same general symptoms, including frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, weakness and weight loss. Other symptoms include tingling of the extremities, increased number of infections, blurred vision, sometimes impotence (in men) or amenorrhea (in women). The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can develop rapidly. Symptoms of type 2 come on more slowly and may not appear until months or years after the disease has begun.

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Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The following are signs and symptoms of diabetes:

  • increased thirst
  • increased hunger
  • increased urination (peeing)
  • weakness and fatigue
  • weight loss
  • blurry vision
  • fast, deep breathing
  • slow or confused thinking

There are several warning signs of diabetes. They are particularly common in type 1 diabetes. Many people with type 2 diabetes have few or no symptoms, so damage to the blood vessels can go undetected for years. Regular checkups with your physician are the best way to identify diabetes.

When present, the typical symptoms of diabetes include: 

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Numbness of the hands or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction

The symptoms of diabetes are usually a combination of fatigue, increased thirst and frequent urination. Less commonly, patients may experience numbness or tingling in their arms and legs, light-headedness, increased hunger or blurry vision. In rare cases, patients will have symptoms of recurrent infections that are a sign of possible diabetes.

Just as there are many different types of diabetes, there are many different types of diabetes symptoms. In certain types of diabetes, such as pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes, there may be no symptoms at all. In types 1 and 2 diabetes, symptoms usually include tiredness, excessive thirst and hunger, more frequent urination, weight loss and blurred vision. In type 1 diabetes, these symptoms typically develop quickly, but symptoms can develop slowly over several years in type 2. Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms related to diabetes.

The symptoms of diabetes include the following:

Type 1 diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Type 2 diabetes

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Recurring or hard-to-heal skin, gum, or bladder infections
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Itching

Some patients may have type 2 diabetes and not know it. In this video, Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, discusses common symptoms like frequent urination, unquenchable thirst and blurry vision.



Watch this clip from Discovery's National Body Challenge to learn about the warning signs of diabetes.

Diabetes is a very common illness affecting more than 24 million Americans. While many people are diagnosed with diabetes, others with diabetes are undiagnosed. Many people wonder what is causing their symptoms of excessive thirst and extreme hunger without realizing the cause is diabetes. If you are unsure if you have diabetes mellitus, it's important to be aware of the key warning signs that go with diabetes. Warning signs may include: 

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue or feeling exhausted
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Pins and needles feeling in the feet and hands
  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Skin infections, other infections
Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

The warning signs of diabetes can include excessive thirst, fatigue, frequent illness, wounds that don't heal well, tingling or numbness in hands and/or feet, blurred vision and unintentional weight loss. These signs may come on suddenly in people with type 1 diabetes, which is most often diagnosed in children and adolescents. In people with type 2 diabetes, which is most often diagnosed in adults, these symptoms may occur more gradually. Sometimes, though, people with diabetes don't have any of the standard red flags. Contact your doctor if you have any of the warning signs of diabetes or if you are concerned that you may be developing the disease.

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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.