What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?2

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes often develops suddenly and can produce symptoms such as:

  • Abnormal thirst and a dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Bedwetting
  • Lack of energy and extreme tiredness
  • Constant hunger
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Blurred vision

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed when these symptom(s) are present with a high blood glucose test result.

Type 2 diabetes

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Excessive urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of energy and extreme tiredness
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Slow healing wounds and recurrent infections

Many people with type 2 diabetes remain unaware of their condition for a long time, because the symptoms are usually not as obvious as those in type 1 diabetes and may take years to be recognized.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

There are several ways to diagnose diabetes. Here are the common blood tests3 used to diagnose diabetes:

  • Hemoglobin A1C (A1C) test: Measures your blood sugar average for the past 2‐3 months. With this test, you don't have to fast or drink anything special.
  • Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test: Checks what is called your “fasting glucose levels.” For this, you can’t eat or drink anything except water for 8 hours, usually overnight, before the test. The test is usually scheduled early in the day, before breakfast.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): Tests how your body responds to a glucose challenge. For this test, you drink a special sweet drink. Your blood sugar levels are tested before and after the drink.
  • Random Plasma Glucose (RPG) test: Checks your blood sugar level at a specific point in time, anytime of the day, without any prior prep for the test. This is usually done when you have other obvious signs of diabetes such as unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness and/or other signs of diabetes.
2 IDF Diabetes Atlas (8th Ed.) (2017). International Diabetes Federation: Brussels, Belgium. Online version accessed May. 5, 2018
3 American Diabetes Association. (ADA) Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes–2018. Diabetes Care 2018; 41, Suppl. 1. Online version accessed May 6, 2018