Detecting Diabetes: Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

May 7th 2016

Type 1 diabetes is a serious disease, but catching it early can help minimize the damage to your body and prevent life-threatening complications. Visit your doctor if you think you may have diabetes.

Frequent Urination

One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is increased urination. This occurs because your kidneys are trying to clear excess sugar out of your bloodstream, which they can only do through urine. This symptom can be subtle at first, and many people only notice it at night. Children who previously slept through the night may begin wetting their beds.

Increased Appetite and Thirst

Constant thirst and hunger are other common signs that you may have diabetes. The increased urination results in perpetual dehydration, causing you to feel constantly thirsty. Your body is also secreting necessary calories through your urine before you have time to use them.

Blurred Vision

Extra blood sugar has to go somewhere, and often it accumulates in the eye. This results in blurry vision. It is sometimes mistaken for normal vision problems, especially in children. It may start out subtle but worsen over time if your diabetes is left untreated.

Weight Loss

Unexplained weight loss can be a symptom of many diseases, but when paired with these other signs, it may be a sign of diabetes. This occurs for the same reasons why you may feel hungry all the time.


Another symptom tied to frequent urination is fatigue and tiredness. Your body is unable to work efficiently, resulting in a constant feeling of exhaustion. This is sometimes mistaken for the flu or other illnesses.

Mood Swings

People with type 1 diabetes have trouble regulating their blood sugar, which means that it can vary from very low to very high. These shifts in blood sugar can result in feelings of irritation and anger. If your blood sugar becomes extremely high, you may feel anxious and confused. That is a potentially life-threatening emergency, and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Other Symptoms

Some people with type 1 diabetes experience sharp stomach pains, nausea or vomiting. Others may notice a fruity or sweet odor on their breath. These symptoms are usually associated with very high blood sugar and may not be obvious in most patients. High blood sugar may also cause a flushed appearance and rapid, labored breathing. This may mean that you are going into diabetic ketoacidosis and need medical assistance.


Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 3 million Americans, but many people go undiagnosed because the signs and symptoms are poorly understood. People can develop it at any age, including during childhood. If you or a loved one show some or all of these symptoms, contact your doctor for an evaluation.

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