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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Updated on April 15, 2012
Painting of a Man
Painting of a Man | Source

Type 1 Diabetes symptoms:

  • frequent urination
  • unusual thirst
  • unusual weight loss
  • extreme fatigue and irritability

may also have:

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • skin infections
  • thrush
  • extreme hunger
  • poor concentration and performance

Type 1 Diabetes

is an auto-immune disease where the body turns against the cells called beta cells found in the pancreas that make insulin.

This process happens over time. So, usually a patient just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes will still have some insulin being produced. However, gradually insulin production decreases until it finally stops.

It commonly occurs in young children, but can occur in people of any age. It is also less common than type 2 diabetes.

'Get-Well' Bouquet Painting
'Get-Well' Bouquet Painting | Source

Type 2 Diabetes - signs and symptoms

High blood glucose levels:

  • fatigue and irritability
  • thirst
  • frequent urination
  • blurry vision
  • frequent infections
  • hunger and weight loss
  • nose going numb or ringing in the ears
  • tingling, numbness
  • burning or pain in the extremities
  • eye disturbances
  • sores, blisters or cracks that won't heal
  • recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
  • sometimes no symptoms at all

Low blood glucose levels:

  • confusion
  • hunger
  • weakness
  • shakiness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • perspiration
  • dizziness
  • nervousness or irritability

Type 2 Diabetes

is when the body becomes insulin resistant and does not utilize insulin properly, or does not produce enough insulin to process blood glucose into fuel that the body can use. This is the most common form of diabetes and was once thought of occurring mainly in older people, but people of all ages can develop this type of diabetes.

Painting - Baby's Birth
Painting - Baby's Birth | Source

Gestational Diabetes - What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy, who don't have diabetes, but their blood glucose levels rise above normal.

It is unclear what causes gestational diabetes, but what we do know is that that the placenta which supplies baby's needs, produces hormones that help baby to develop. Unfortunately, these hormones can also inhibit insulin working in the mother's body. This is called insulin resistance, and it means the body does not use the insulin properly, so that more insulin is required, sometimes as much as three times more.

Gestational diabetes occurs much in the same way as Type 2 Diabetes does, in that your body cannot produce or use all the insulin it needs while pregnant. Without enough insulin needed to utilize blood glucose, the levels begin to rise causing hyperglycaemia.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Baby?

The onset of gestational diabetes usually occurs late in pregnancy, when baby is well developed and busy growing. Unlike mothers with diabetes prior to becoming pregnant, gestational diabetes does not affect the early development of baby, avoiding different birth defects.

When 'mum' has gestational diabetes, it can hurt the baby if not treated or controlled effectively. If you have gestational diabetes, your body attempts to produce enough insulin for both your and your baby's needs, but this has little effect on your blood glucose levels. Insulin does not cross the placental barrier but the higher levels of blood glucose do. Baby responds by producing more insulin to process this extra glucose, but as baby does not need to use all this converted energy, it gets stored as fat.

This stored extra fat can lead to a condition called macrosomia or 'fat baby.' These babies can face health problems as a result of this condition, such as damaged shoulders during the birthing process. Also, because their body has been producing higher quantities of insulin to process the excess glucose they had been receiving 'in utero,' once born, the glucose is gone and they can suffer very low levels of glucose shortly after birth. They have a higher risk of having breathing problems, and as they grow up, are also at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and obesity as adults.

New Life Going Forward - Painting of a Woman
New Life Going Forward - Painting of a Woman | Source

Diabetes -

When someone finds out they have diabetes, they can feel overwhelmed as the realization of what this means sinks in.

There is a lot to take on board and while the disease itself cannot be cured, usually it can be effectively controlled and managed. It does however, require effort, and a desire to be healthy, enough of a desire to make some permanent life changes.

In between that time and just after finding out about your diabetes, you may feel like you are on an emotional roller-coaster ride and experience a form of grieving. This is normal...

There are 5 stages to grieving, and whether you are grieving over the loss of a person, or a relationship or your health or life as you know it, the stages and working through them are still the same.

Girl in Grief - Painting
Girl in Grief - Painting | Source

Be kind to yourself, love yourself and let others love you too, let them in and let them share what you are going through.

Diabetes connected with depression:

Research has shown that people with diabetes are more likely to experience depression as it is thought the raised level of the stress hormone cortisol due to insulin resistance, is also a factor in depression.

Symptoms of depression: (seek medical attention immediately if you have been experiencing five or more of these for two weeks or more)
- persistently sad or anxious
- sleep patterns have changed - too much or not enough
- change in appetite and weight - either loss of or gain
- not interested in things you normally enjoy
- feeling restless or irritable frequently
- having difficulty focusing, memory loss or indecisiveness
- unusual fatigue or lack of energy
- feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
- thinking about suicide and death

If you observe these in your friend or family member, encourage them to see their doctor.

Sugar Salt and Honey - Painting
Sugar Salt and Honey - Painting | Source

What is Insulin and Hyperglycaemia? What Happens When Your Blood Glucose Levels Get Too High and Stay High

Your body produces a hormone called insulin to process the sugar (glucose) in your blood. It makes the glucose usable for cells as a source of energy. When your body does not make enough insulin or your body becomes insulin resistant (that is your body does not recognize insulin correctly), glucose from the food you eat stays in your bloodstream and your blood glucose levels rise. This is called hyperglycaemia.

If hyperglycaemia is left untreated, ketoacidosis (diabetic coma) can develop.

When your body can't get the fuel it needs because your blood glucose is not available, it sources its energy from the fats in your body instead. Unfortunately, the byproduct of this process produces ketones, which are then released into the blood stream. The body will try to get rid of them in the urine, but will be unable to release all the ketones and this build-up is called ketoacidosis. This condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical intervention.

Early symptoms include the following:
- thirst or a very dry mouth
- frequent urination
- high blood glucose (sugar) levels
- high levels of ketones in the urine
Then, other symptoms appear:
- constantly feeling tired
- dry or flushed skin
- nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
- hard time breathing (short, deep breaths)
- fruity odor on breath
- hard time paying attention, or confusion

If vomiting occurs, then get to the hospital immediately.

If you have any of these symptoms or you just want to check your blood glucose levels, see your doctor. If you have pre-diabetes, you can change your lifestyle - change your eating habits, exercise and reduce your stress levels and you can help prevent diabetes from developing. You may still need to be checked annually, but if you can get in early, you can ensure a bright healthy future free from the complications of diabetes.

Ideally, you will work with your health providers to manage your diabetes no matter what type, and it is a matter of managing your condition. Yes, it is a disease and there is no 'cure' but good control can effectively see you live a life as near to normal as possible and in most cases your life is better - you eat good food, you get regular exercise and sleep, you reduce unnecessary stress and generally you are happier. Diabetes can help you identify what is truly important in your life.

With available treatments and support, if there ever was a good time to have diabetes, now would be it - except, of course, for when a cure IS found.

Thank you for stopping by, please feel free to comment...

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    • Johanna Baker profile imageAUTHOR

      Johanna Mary Elisabeth Baker 

      6 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Grief is a feeling that we experience not only at death but at the loss of many things, like our health or even how we perceive our lives when things are not as we expected, and I wanted a picture that conveyed something of that feeling... and she looked sad... thanks for your insightful comment Giselle...

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      6 years ago

      It's fantastic that you have covered the emotional angle as well as the physical issues. By the way, I was immediately intrigued by the picture entitled "Girl in Grief". Would you tell me more about it please?

    • yssubramanyam profile image


      6 years ago from india, nellore. andhrapradesh

      i shall follow your golden advice, lovely helping hub..

    • Johanna Baker profile imageAUTHOR

      Johanna Mary Elisabeth Baker 

      6 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Yssubramanyam, your doctor will be the best one to check your blood and help you keep an eye on your blood sugar levels. Other than that a healthy diet with little sugar and fat, daily exercise and low stress levels will all help you stay healthy. Thank you for your kind comments.

    • yssubramanyam profile image


      6 years ago from india, nellore. andhrapradesh

      i am one of the aspirant in this subject, none of the above indications are felt or seen. but the accucheck reading is 280 after break fast. my age is 55. it is going on since 5 years. no abnormality is found. what should i do? i am not following any restrictions. i need your guidance. lovely hub. thanks.

    • naimishika profile image


      6 years ago from India

      Thanks for sharing the article. It is great!!!! Find my writings about diabetics on hubs


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