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Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of diabetes are related to high glucose levels (hyperglycemia), low glucose levels (hypoglycemia), and complications associated with diabetes. The complications can be related to lipid production, damage to blood vessels (vascular and microvascular), organ damage - for example, kidney (diabetic nephropathy), nerve (diabetic neuropathy), and eye (diabetic retinopathy) damage - and/or to the slower healing associated with diabetes. Type 1 diabetics are often diagnosed with acute severe symptoms that require hospitalization. With pre-diabetes, early type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes, there usually are no symptoms.

Symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes with hyperglycemia:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite (with type 1, weight loss is also seen)
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain (especially in children) 
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing infections
  • Numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Absence of menstruation in women
  • Rapid breathing (acute)
  • Decreased consciousness, coma (acute)

Symptoms of impending hypoglycemia:
Temporary hypoglycemia in the diabetic may be caused by the accidental injection of too much insulin, not eating enough or waiting too long to eat, exercising strenuously, or by the swings in glucose levels seen with "brittle" diabetes. Hypoglycemia needs to be addressed as soon as it is noticed as it can rapidly progress to unconsciousness. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden severe hunger
  • Headache
  • Anxiety, confusion
  • Sweating
  • Trembling, weakness
  • Double vision
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

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