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What are the symptoms of diabetes?

In this article, we will first look at some of the common symptoms of diabetes. We will then look at differences that may occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you, or someone you love, identifies with these signs, talking to a doctor is crucial.

When it comes to identifying diabetes, everyone's a little different. It is essential to remember that diabetes does not always appear in one clear way. Sometimes the symptoms can seem sudden, and other times it is gradual. Knowing the early signs of diabetes can help you protect the ones you love.

What are the warning signs of diabetes?

There are eight signs or symptoms of diabetes that should cause you to take notice.1

  • A lack of energy
  • Constant hunger
  • Frequent toilet use
  • Increased thirst
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Numb or tingling hands and feet
  • Extremely dry skin

Please note that this is a general list and these symptoms can occur in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you start to notice some signs, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine the next steps around diagnosis and treatments.

What are the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes?

With type 1 diabetes, you will likely experience the general symptoms of diabetes. However, you might also feel nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains2. Unlike type 2 diabetes, the onset of symptoms may be very sudden. Even though the symptoms may overlap, the timing can help differentiate between the two.

What are the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes?

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include the general symptoms, however, they may appear more mild. In some cases, you may not experience all of the symptoms, but just a handful1. The mildness of the symptoms and the absence of others can make it more challenging to identify type 2 diabetes.

How is diabetes diagnosed in adults?

Luckily, the process of diagnosing diabetes is relatively easy. Once you speak to your doctor, they can help you determine the next steps. Generally, a blood test to check your glucose levels will help determine whether you have diabetes.

Three tests can identify diabetes:

  • HbA1C: Measures the average percent of your blood over the last two to three months that has sugar attached to it. A diagnosis is made if HbA1C levels are greater than or equal to 48 mmol/mol (6.5%). No fasting (not eating) is required; making it easier4.
  • Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG): Measures fasting blood sugar levels. You must fast for at least 8 hours prior to the test. It is best to schedule it first thing in the morning, before breakfast. Diabetes is diagnosed if fasting blood sugar levels are greater than or equal to 7 mmol/L4.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): A two-hour test checks blood sugar levels before and after drinking a special sweet drink. It is used to understand how the body processes sugar4. This test is routinely used when diagnosing gestational diabetes.

Why is getting diabetes checked so necessary?

It’s essential to flag the early signs of diabetes and get checked out, because left untreated or unmanaged, diabetes can lead to life-changing complications.  Even if you do not experience all of the signs, it is still vital to visit your doctor and do a blood test.

You know your body better than anyone - trust what it is telling you. For yourself and your family, pay attention to the signs of diabetes!





Before making any changes to your lifestyle or medication, please speak to your healthcare professional to check it is suitable for you. The content is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely – you must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content. Although we make reasonable efforts to ensure that the content is up to date, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content is accurate, complete or up-to-date.

15 May 2023