Diabetes Education

Diabetes Symptoms
Prevent Diabetes or Diabetes Complications by Knowing The Symptoms

Approximately 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, and each year approximately one million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed. Nonetheless, many people who have diabetes remain undiagnosed. Diabetes is a disease of excess sugar (glucose) in the blood. Men and women of all ages and ethnic groups are affected by diabetes. If diabetes goes undiagnosed it could become life threatening.

Type 2 diabetes is more common than Type 1 diabetes. Approximately 90% of persons living with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects over 10% of Americans over the age of 65.

In Type 1 diabetes, symptoms of high blood glucose (sugar) appear suddenly or quickly, while in Type 2 diabetes, the symptoms appear more gradually over time.

Q. What are symptoms of diabetes?

A. Common diabetes symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination (Especially at night)
  • Increased appetite
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers or feet
  • Excessive fatigue (Feeling tired frequently)
  • Dry skin
  • Poor and/or slow wound healing

Q. How does diabetes occur?

A. Insulin hormone, made in the pancreas is necessary to regulate blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone that converts starches, sugars and other foods into energy for use by our body cells.

In the case of a person with diabetes, the body may not make enough insulin hormone in the beta cells of the pancreas, or the body may not use insulin properly (a condition called "insulin resistance"). When the body does not have enough insulin, the result is elevated blood glucose (blood sugar) levels.

When blood glucose (sugar) levels are too high, diabetes mellitus ("diabetes") is diagnosed.

Q. What is pre-diabetes?

A. This is a condition that often precedes diabetes when blood glucose levels are elevated, but the levels are not high enough to diagnose diabetes. With increased physical activity and modest weight loss, persons with pre-diabetes may prevent development of Type 2 diabetes.

Q. How is the diagnosis of diabetes made? What is the criteria for diagnosing diabetes?

A. Diabetes is diagnosed when the fasting blood glucose level is greater than 126 mg/dl on two separate testing dates, or if the blood glucose level is over 200 mg/dl with the presence of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) symptoms. Also, some physicians will order an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to confirm a diabetes diagnosis.

Being aware of the symptoms of diabetes is important. Discuss all laboratory results with your physician. The information provided in this article is intended to improve your general knowledge concerning diabetes and for educational purposes. The information in this article cannot substitute for professional medical advice, nor does it replace the medical judgment of a licensed healthcare professional.

Q. What are the different types of diabetes?

A. The major types of diabetes include:

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Gestational Diabetes (GDM)

Although not an official type of diabetes, pre-diabetes is important to be aware of:

Pre-Diabetes

Q. Where can I learn more about the symptoms of diabetes?

A. Here are two helpful resources to learn more about diabetes symptoms:

Jeanna Rhoulhac, RD, LD/N, CDE, has been dedicated to helping people with diabetes for almost 20 years. Jeanna’s interest in diabetes began at an early age as her maternal grandmother had type 2 diabetes. Providing her clients with an individualized plan of care is very important to Jeanna, who strives to motivate and support her clients in every way. More about Jeanna

The goal of Destination Diabetes is to be a useful and credible resource for the more than 20 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S. and their families. Destination Diabetes provides information on a wide range of diabetes health and wellness topics. Articles are written or reviewed by diabetes advisors who have experience in diabetes education.