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The signs and symptoms of diabetes can vary. If you have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, the signs and symptoms you or others may recognize are most likely caused by hyperglycemia, or excess sugar in the blood.

Signs of Hyperglycemia

  • Increased thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Extreme hunger

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones increase in the body when there's not enough available insulin, and smell like acetone, or nail polish remover)

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Blurred vision

  • Slow-healing sores

  • Frequent infections (including gums, skin, and vaginal infections)

Symptoms and Your Type of Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, the symptoms may have a slow and gradual onset, or you may not notice any at all.

If you have type 1 diabetes, the signs and symptoms can be more sudden and severe. Though you can be diagnosed with any types of diabetes at any age, type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in childhood.

If you are a parent or guardian of a child who is exhibiting signs of increased hunger or thirst, excessive or uncontrolled urination, unexplained weight loss, or fatigue and irritation, it is important to get the child to a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

No matter the type of diabetes, if you or a loved one are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, swift action is important to avoid diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a dangerous and life-threatening complication caused when there’s not enough insulin in the blood. DKA can lead the body to break down fat for energy, producing ketones which make the blood dangerously acidic.

After a diagnosis of diabetes, once you begin treatment, it is important to also be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Signs of Hypoglycemia

  • Hunger

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Headache

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability 

  • Confusion

Severe Hypoglycemia

During severe hypoglycemia you may experience different symptoms that indicate that your brain doesn’t have enough glucose to properly function.

Signs of Severe Hypoglycemia

  • Confusion

  • Combativeness 

  • Disorientation

  • Seizures

  • Loss of consciousness

Additonal information on hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and DKA