According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020 , 34.2 million Americans – 1 in 10 people – have diabetes, and approximately 88 million Americans- 1 in 3 people- have prediabetes. Similar numbers exist in many other countries, and for this reason it is not surprising that untold individuals seek information online everyday about diabetic symptoms, and answers about what constitutes diabetes. And in fact, a quick dive into diabetes symptoms and facts may seriously surprise you!
Diabetes may be difficult to prevent, but its effect on your health and quality of life can be minimized with proper treatment. If you have signs of diabetes, it’s not the end of the world, however, it’s crucial that you take action early, educate yourself, and get proper treatment from your doctor.
Symptoms Of Diabetes
In case you didn’t know, there are three types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, and gestational (during pregnancy).
Most women with gestational diabetes do not have any symptoms . Gestational diabetes usually occurs in the middle of the pregnancy. The best way to avoid complications for pregnant women is to be tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
As for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, they have a number of common symptoms :
- Hunger and fatigue. Since the body of people with diabetes doesn’t make enough insulin or resists insulin, glucose can’t get into cells, resulting in a lack of nutrition and energy. Cells need insulin to adequately take in glucose.
- Frequent urination and dehydration. Due to the elevated blood sugar levels, the body will produce more urine to bring blood sugar back down. This will cause more frequent urination, dehydration, and thirst. And as you drink more to hydrate your body, you will pee even more.
- Itchy skin and dry mouth. Dehydration may also manifest itself in the form of itchiness and dry mouth.
- Blurred vision. Fluid imbalance in the body may swell up the eye lenses, changing their shape and impairing their ability to focus.
These symptoms are common for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. However, there also are symptoms that are more specific to one or other type.
Type 1 diabetes symptoms
- Weight loss. Unable to adequately use glucose, your body will start using the energy contained in fat and muscle. This will cause an unintended weight loss.
- Nausea and vomiting. When switching to fat for energy, your body will make ketones. These may cause nausea, vomiting, and ketone intoxication.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms
- Yeast infections. Yeast thrives on glucose, so elevated blood sugar levels may trigger yeast infections. Infections can show up on warm or moist areas of the skin, like between the fingers.
- Slow healing of wounds. High blood sugar levels may affect blood flow and cause nerve damage, slowing down the process of wound healing.
- Pain or numbness in legs or feet, which is also caused by nerve damage.
Diabetes In Children
Children can get both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, though type 1 is much more common among the youth .
With Type 1 diabetes, one of the main symptoms is increased urination – toilet-trained children may start wetting their bed if they have diabetes. Dehydration, fatigue, and hunger are also common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes has historically been rare in children, but with the increase of prevalence of child obesity and excessive weight, Type 2 diabetes has become more common.
When it comes to symptoms, Type 2 diabetes in children may develop very gradually and can be very difficult to identify. In many cases, it is diagnosed during a routine health check-up .
Type 2 diabetes may also manifest itself in increased thirst, frequent urination, dehydration, fatigue, blurry vision, weight loss, or darkened areas of skin.
Untreated diabetes in children may cause lifelong complications, so taking action early is critical. Regular health check-ups are a must as well. If you spot any signs of diabetes, contact a doctor immediately.
Do Diabetes Symptoms Appear Suddenly?
With Type 1 diabetes, symptoms can appear very suddenly . In contrast, with Type 2 diabetes, symptoms appear more gradually (or may not appear at all). Sometimes, symptoms come up after virus infections.
When Should You See A Doctor?
The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor when :
- You suspect diabetes.
- You’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes.
Regular health check-ups are a must for everyone, but they are especially important for children, pregnant women, and older adults. Diabetes should be identified soon so that you can start treatment early. With prompt treatment, the chances of serious complications are considerably lower.
No matter what you do, don’t resort to self-treatment – there seems to be a strong consensus among medical professionals that diabetes can’t be properly dealt with at home. Schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can so that they can assess your health condition and come up with a treatment plan.
“National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020”, U.S. CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-stat-report.html.
“Diabetes Symptoms”, U.S. CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/symptoms.html.
“Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes”, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/understanding-diabetes-symptoms.
“Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes”, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes#in-children.
“Type 2 diabetes in children”, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes-in-children/symptoms-causes/syc-20355318.
“Diabetes Symptoms”, American Diabetes Association, https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/type-1/symptoms.
“Diabetes”, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444.