Signs and symptoms of diabetes

There are a number of signs and symptoms that may be experienced by people with diabetes. There are differences in what is experienced for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes the signs and symptoms usually develop over just a few days, are generally severe and can be life-threatening. Therefore, type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed quickly and treated as a matter of urgency.

People with type 2 diabetes may have a very gradual development of signs and symptoms, or may have no symptoms at all. Signs may go unnoticed because they may be seen as part of ‘getting older’. Therefore, by the time symptoms are noticed, diabetes may have been present for some years and complications of diabetes may already be present. However, if you are having any of the following symptoms, see your doctor as you will need immediate care to control the short term complications of diabetes.

Common signs and symptoms

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • going to the toilet more often, especially noticed at night
  • dry mouth, feeling dehydrated
  • being more thirsty than usual
  • feeling tired, lethargic or irritable
  • feeling hungry constantly
  • slow healing of cuts/sores/ulcers
  • itching, skin infections or rashes
  • thrush or bladder infections
  • blurred vision
  • unexplained weight loss (type 1)
  • weight changes
  • mood swings
  • headaches
  • feeling dizzy
  • pain or tingling in the legs and/or feet
  • high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure are also likely.
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If you have any of the above symptoms contact your GP. Early diagnosis, treatment and good control of diabetes is vital to reduce the chances of developing serious diabetes complications.

Untreated type 1 diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including diabetic ketoacidosis, which can result in a potentially fatal coma.

Type 2 diabetes can be easier to miss, especially in the early stages when the underlying symptoms may not be apparent. But diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Being diagnosed early and controlling your blood glucose levels can help prevent these complications.