Diabetes symptoms may vary by type, but catching symptoms earlier may reduce your chances of developing complications. Compare the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes.
When you have diabetes, your body has a problem with the production or effective use of the hormone insulin. Insulin is necessary to help your body use glucose — the sugar that is your body’s most important fuel — and clear it from your bloodstream. If this system is not working, glucose builds up in your blood, which can result in a variety of symptoms and health complications.
Common Diabetes Symptoms
Some people who are diagnosed with diabetes haven’t experienced any diabetes symptoms — their diabetes was diagnosed from the results of a simple blood test.
Many people, however, may notice one or more of the following diabetes warning signs:
- Urinating frequently. Since your kidneys must remove the excess glucose from your blood, it ends up in your urine, which can cause more frequent urination with more volume.
- Increased thirst. When you lose an increased amount of fluid through frequent urination, you may become dehydrated and thirsty. You’ll notice that you are drinking more fluids to stay hydrated.
- Excessive hunger. You may notice that you feel hungry all the time. Your body is unable to use the glucose you have and is trying to tell you it needs more fuel.
- Unexplained weight loss. Since your body is unable to use your blood glucose effectively, it begins to break down your energy stores such as fat, which can result in weight loss or a failure to gain weight in growing children. This can happen even though you are hungry and eating more.
- Fatigue. Feeling tired is a common diabetes symptom because your body cannot convert the glucose in your blood into usable energy.
- Irritable mood. Along with hunger and fatigue, it is not uncommon to feel irritable when you have diabetes.
- Blurred vision. High blood glucose levels can cause you to temporarily experience blurred vision.
Symptoms by Type of Diabetes
Your diabetes symptoms and how they develop will differ somewhat, depending on which type of diabetes you have. For example:
- Prediabetes is asymptomatic, meaning you won’t feel any symptoms; patients are often diagnosed as a result of routine blood work.
- Type 1 diabetes symptoms often come on more suddenly than symptoms of other types of diabetes. While older people can also develop type 1 diabetes, it usually makes its appearance during childhood, the teenage years, or young adulthood.
- Type 2 diabetes symptoms generally develop very gradually, compared to type 1 diabetes symptoms. As your body becomes less responsive toinsulin, symptoms usually get worse. However, sometimes people with type 2 diabetes experience no diabetes symptoms at all.
- Women with gestational diabetes often experience no symptoms. However, since gestational diabetes can increase your risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy, developing hypertension may be a sign you have gestational diabetes.
Diabetes symptoms can often seem confusing and vague, meaning that many people have diabetes for a long time before they are diagnosed. If you are concerned that you may have diabetes, it is important to see your doctor, because the earlier it is diagnosed, the better you can reduce your chances of developing complications. All it takes is a simple blood test to determine if you have diabetes or may be at risk for it.