What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Holly Anderson
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Increased thirst, itching, and blurry vision are some symptoms of diabetes, says Holly Anderson, Outpatient Diabetes Coordinator at Reston Hospital Center. Watch this video to learn more about other symptoms.
Diabetes can present with a wide variety of symptoms, including no symptoms at all. Learn more in this interview with internist Marc Lavin, MD from West Hills Hospital & Medical Center.
Extreme thirst and extreme urination are among the common symptoms of diabetes. Learn more in this video with Carole Radney, RN, of Coliseum Medical Centers.
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.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
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.
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
Watch this clip from Discovery's National Body Challenge to learn about the warning signs of diabetes.
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.
Ronald Tamler, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

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.

Diabetes and prediabetes can be present for years without causing any noticeable symptoms. In fact, it's estimated that nearly 6 million people in the United States have diabetes and don't know it, which is why it's important to get regular screenings.

Diabetes symptoms in women and men are the same—and tend to come on gradually. Just a few that you should be aware of include:
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst and a need to urinate more than usual
  • Increased or constant hunger
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Skin sores that take longer than normal to heal
  • More infections than usual
  • Weight loss

If you experience several symptoms of diabetes or any unusual symptoms that linger or get worse rather than better, make an appointment to talk with your healthcare provider about them.

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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
Constance Brown-Riggs
Nutrition & Dietetics

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 health care 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

Be well...

    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
    Eric Olsen
    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.
    Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

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    Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

    An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...
    Jill A. Grimes, MD
    Family Medicine

    The classic symptoms of diabetes are: being hungry all the time or thirsty all the time, having frequent urination, having an unexplained sudden weight loss or developing fatigue. Many people have no obvious symptoms.

    If you are overweight, especially if you have a family history of diabetes, go and see your doctor and get tested for diabetes. A simple fasting blood test will tell the doctor whether or not your blood sugar is elevated.

    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

    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.

    Continue Learning about 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.

    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.