What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms
The following is a list of the main warning signs associated with type 1 diabetes:
Need To Urinate Often
As the body can't absorb the glucose in your bloodstream (as it should), it is excreted by the kidneys with your urine. This results in a high concentration of glucose in the urine. In response the body draws water out of the blood to lower the concentration. All this extra fluid builds up in the bladder necessitating the need to urinate more frequently.
As you urinate more often, this means there is less fluid in your body so you become dehydrated. This causes you to become extra thirsty.
Although there is plenty of glucose in the body - because you lack insulin - the cells of the body can't access the glucose to use as energy. As a result they become malnourished and send hunger signals to the brain. The body experiences a sensation of hunger, even though there is a plentiful source of food. It just can't access it.
As your body cannot utilize the glucose in your blood for energy it starts to break down muscle and stored deposits of fat instead. This can result in sudden weight loss.
You may feel weak and easily fatigued as your body is not getting enough sources of energy.
If the body is poor nourished it cannot function efficiently. This can affect your menstrual cycle and lead to irregular periods and even missing periods.
Fatty Deposits Around The Eyes
Xanthelasmata (picture) is where fatty deposits collect around the eyes. Doctors used to think it was a sign of heart disease, but this is no longer the case. It can be a sign however of uncontrolled diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
If you experience two or more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor; you may have developed type 2 diabetes:
Frequent Urination and Thirst
Caused, as with type 1 diabetes, by excess glucose in the blood.
Fatigue and Irritability
Tiredness caused by low levels of energy can lead to increased feelings of irritability.
Fluctuations in glucose levels in the body causes the lenses in your eyes to swell and shrink. This leads to blurred vision because the eyes cannot adjust to the changes quickly enough.
Excess glucose in the urine can lead to frequent recurrent yeast infections and vaginal itching. It may also cause recurrent urinary tract infections.
Slow Healing Gum or Skin Infections
White blood cells in the body defend us against infections, but they do not work efficiently in a high-glucose environment. Infections and bugs on the hand thrive in it. This makes diabetics much more prone to infections and healing takes longer.
Tingling and Numbness in the Hands/Feet
Technically called neuropathy, this usually only occurs about 5 years after the onset of the disease. If you notice diabetic neuropathy sooner, it is likely you've had diabetes longer than you realize.
Want to Know More? See our articles on the causes of diabetes, diabetes complications and metabolic syndrome.
Differences Between The Symptoms Of Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
The signs are very similar but there are some differences:
How It Starts
Type 1 diabetes usually starts quite suddenly. The person may become very ill and need hospitalization before doctors make a diagnosis. Type 2 on the other hand develops over many years, and it only gradually starts to show symptoms.
When It Starts
Type 1 used to be called juvenile diabetes because it typically starts in the teens or early adulthood. Type 2, used to be called adult onset diabetes and typically starts after the age of 40. However, these lines are starting to blur because more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; most likely because of the epidemic in childhood obesity.
Type 1 diabetics are typically thin or normal weight whereas type 2 diabetics are often over-weight or obese.
Type 1 diabetics usually have a much higher level of blood glucose at the onset of their disease compared to type 2 diabetics: 300 to 400 mg/dl (16.6 to 22.2 mmol/L) vs. 200 to 250 mg/dl (11.1 to 13.9 mmol/L).