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Diabetes symptoms

The main symptoms of diabetes are increased urination (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia) and tiredness

Common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can develop quickly, over weeks or sometimes days.

Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes often doesn’t cause symptoms and is identified on routine screening. When type 2 diabetes does cause symptoms these can include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination (sometimes as often as every hour), especially at night
  • Unexpected weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • In women, frequent vaginal infections
  • In men and women, yeast infections (thrush)
  • Dry mouth
  • Slow-healing sores or cuts
  • Itching skin, especially in the groin or vaginal area.

Acanthosis nigricans

This is a condition that results in the darkening and thickening of certain areas of the skin, especially in the skin folds. The skin becomes light brown or brown and is sometimes slightly raised and described as velvety. Most often the condition, which typically looks like a small wart, appears on the sides or back of the neck, the armpits, under the breast, and groin. Occasionally the top of the knuckles will have a particularly unusual appearance. Acanthosis nigricans usually affects people who are very overweight. There is no cure for acanthosis nigricans, but losing weight may improve the condition. Acanthosis nigricans usually precedes diabetes. There are other conditions that are also known to cause acanthosis nigricans, including acromegaly and Cushing syndrome. Acanthosis nigricans is a skin manifestation of insulin resistance in most people.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition characterised by high blood sugar (glucose) levels that is first recognised during pregnancy. The condition occurs in approximately 14% of all pregnant women.

It is usually diagnosed during routine screening before it causes any symptoms.

Seek medical advice about diabetes if:

  • You feel nauseated, weak and excessively thirsty; are urinating very frequently; have abdominal pain; or are breathing more deeply and rapidly than normal - perhaps with sweet breath that smells like nail polish remover. You may need immediate medical attention for ketoacidosis, a potentially deadly complication of type 1 diabetes.
  • You are having weakness or fainting spells; are experiencing a rapid heartbeat, trembling and excessive sweating; and feel irritable, hungry or suddenly drowsy. You could be developing hypoglycaemia - low blood sugar that can occur with diabetes treatment. You may need to have a carbohydrate snack or sugary drink promptly to avoid more serious complications.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 16, 2015

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