Symptoms of diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus is a set of clinical manifestations specific to a given disease, which indicates to physicians and patients that the pathological process begins or progresses.

Diabetes is recognized as one of the most common diseases in the world, today it already suffers 347 million people worldwide. According to statistics, in just two decades, the number of cases has increased more than 10 times. About 90% of these people have type 2 diabetes.

If you identify pathology in the initial stages, you can avoid a huge number of serious complications. That is why it is so important to know what is indicative of the onset of the disease, and how a person needs to be examined so that it can control this severe endocrinological pathology.

Manifestations of diabetes do not depend on its type. The human body is able to understand when a sufficient level of energy stops flowing from the glucose necessary in this case, to the results of a violation of its metabolism, and it remains in excess in the bloodstream, causing enormous irreversible damage to systems and organs. Disturbed in the body metabolic processes are provided by a lack of insulin, which is responsible for the process of glucose metabolism. But the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus of the first and second types have significant differences, so you need to know exactly the symptoms of each of them.

Main symptoms

A lack of insulin in the blood or a decrease in the sensitivity of insulin-dependent cells to the action of insulin in the body leads to a high concentration of glucose in the blood. In addition to this symptom, which is considered major in diabetes, there are other signs that are revealed during the patient’s medical observation. If you have the slightest suspicion of the presence of this disease, you should seek medical help, because the disease that was detected early is to be treated, and even children of school age begin to suffer from diabetes in the modern world.

First manifestations

As the first manifestations of diabetes, doctors cite a number of specific symptoms. In diabetes, patients always have polyuria - frequent and abundant urine, due to the high content of glycemia and the level of glucose in the urine. It is glycosuria that is the reason that prevents the renal structures from absorbing fluid. Polyuria is always accompanied by thirst, in which a person is able to consume up to 10 liters of fluid per day.

Despite the consumption of this amount of fluid, there is always a feeling of dry mouth. When diabetes mellitus of the second type occurs, along with thirst, there is also a feeling of constant hunger. This is due to the fact that insulin produced by the pancreas circulates in large quantities in the blood and, without being used for its intended purpose, sends signals to the brain about the feeling of hunger.

A high level of glycemia causes serious harm to the body. Damage to nerve fibers leads to diabetic polyneuropathy. The first sign of such a complication is numbness of the toes and hands and the occurrence of a strong pain syndrome in the extremities. If we start to influence the blood glucose level in a timely manner, the development of this process can be stopped and the pain syndrome, if not stopped altogether, will be disturbed not so pronounced. However, if you miss the beginning of the progression of pathology, you can wait for very serious consequences - severe pain, violation of innervation, trophic ulcers and other things.

With the defeat of high blood vessel glycemia, diabetic angiopathy develops. Clinically, at the beginning of the disease, this is manifested by a feeling of blurred blood with a high concentration of glucose, then a decrease in visual acuity and even complete blindness in the absence of therapy. The occurrence of any of the above symptoms, and especially their complex, should force the patient to be urgently examined for insulin deficiency.

External manifestations

Among external signs, there are also those that indicate the occurrence of insulin resistance and high glycemia. For example, such a symptom may be a sharp occurrence of dry skin, itching and flaking. It is especially important to pay attention to such skin manifestations against the background of accompanying thirst that has appeared. Also in diabetes, itching on the mucous genitalia is very common, which is caused by the irritating effect of glucose in the urine. No discharges are observed, which is a distinctive feature of diabetes.

Also a signal of the onset of diabetes mellitus of the first type is a sharp weight loss. In this case, it is necessary to monitor for the presence of some more symptoms of pathology, so as not to make hasty conclusions. Obesity and overweight is not a symptom of type 2 diabetes, but rather may be its cause. In any case, if the weight of a person is rapidly changing in any direction for no apparent reason, you should pay attention to it and get tested by a doctor.

Symptoms by type of diabetes

First type

Diabetes mellitus of the first type is very rapid in its development. He has his own specific manifestations to which attention should be paid.

The patient has a history of increased appetite, but at the same time he only loses weight, is exhausted, suffers from drowsiness. Frequent urging to the toilet does not allow to sleep at night, forcing you to get up several times. The amount of urine increases significantly, as well as the feeling of thirst.

Such symptoms can not go unnoticed, because it occurs very sharply and suddenly. It is accompanied by nausea, vomiting and severe irritability. It is especially important to pay attention to the constant urge to use the toilet at night in children, if previously this was not observed.

The main problem of diabetes mellitus of the first type is the fact that the level of glucose in the blood can rise both critically and dramatically decrease. Both of these conditions are dangerous to health and have their own characteristics and manifestations, which must be carefully monitored.

Second type

The most common is diabetes mellitus type two. Its manifestations are very diverse, they appear gradually, so they are difficult to immediately catch and recognize. Mild symptoms usually do not lead to the fact that a person, having discovered it in himself, begins to immediately sound the alarm.

For the second type of diabetes, dry mouth, thirst, heavy urination, weight loss, fatigue, weakness and drowsiness are common. A feature of this type of disease in the early stages is the presence of tingling in the fingers and numbness of the extremities, hypertensive manifestations, the occurrence of infectious processes in the urinary system. Similarly, with the first type of diabetes, the patient may experience nausea and vomiting, dry and itchy skin, skin infections.

It is important to remember that the gradual development of symptoms leads to the development of the disease itself. Diabetes in the later stages is fraught with the occurrence of hyperosmolar coma, lactic acidosis, ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia, which are gaining momentum in a couple of hours and can even lead to the death of the patient. Also, as a result of advanced diabetes, patients often have serious problems with their eyesight, leading subsequently to total blindness, renal or heart failure, and pathologies of the vascular and nervous systems.

During pregnancy

Gestational diabetes mellitus is rarely manifested by some specific external signs. Most often, its presence is found out during routine examinations that are carried out regularly for pregnant women. The main indicators are data from blood and urine tests.

In the presence of external signs of the gestational type of the disease, they are all very similar to the symptoms of diabetes of the first two types - nausea, vomiting, weakness, thirst, infections in the urogenital system are not individually signs of toxicosis and other pathologies, but they indicate onset in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy gestational diabetes.

The gestational form of the pathology does not bear a direct threat to the life of the mother or child, however, it can affect the general course of pregnancy, well-being of both the expectant mother and the fetus. High levels of glucose in the blood lead to the birth of a baby with a high weight (more than 4 kilograms), which in the future will be a prerequisite for his obesity or the incidence of diabetes at any age. It may also be slightly manifested delayed development of the child, hypoglycemia, jaundice in the early stages of the life of the newborn.

Signs of complications

Diabetic foot

In medicine, a diabetic foot is understood as a complex anatomical and functional change in the tissues of the distal lower extremities in patients with diabetes. This is the most terrible complication of the pathology under consideration, often leading to gangrene, amputation of limbs and disability.

If you have a history of diabetes mellitus, the state of health of your feet should be monitored very carefully. There are three main forms of diabetic foot: neuropathic (primary damage to the nerves), ischemic (primary damage to the blood vessels and impaired blood flow), mixed.

Among the complaints of patients preceding a diabetic foot, experts distinguish unpleasant feelings, burning and stitching sensations in the legs, goosebumps, a sense of discharge current. If these troubles disappear when walking, this indicates the beginning of the development of the neuropathic form of the diabetic foot. It is also important to pay attention if the sensitivity periodically disappears in the feet. If painful sensations occur directly while walking or at night (you can only calm down by hanging the limbs off the edge of the bed), then this means the beginning of the development of the ischemic form of the diabetic foot called “ischemic foot”.

Among the signs testifying to the onset of diabetic foot development, experts highlight the blanching of the skin on the legs or the appearance of pigment spots on them, the peeling and dryness of the skin in this area, the occurrence of different-sized bubbles on the skin with a clear liquid, often callosities, cracks between the fingers, nail deformities plates on the legs, thickening of keratinization of the skin of the feet, spontaneous fractures of the small bones on the legs. If a person notices at least a few of these symptoms, he should immediately seek medical help.

Signs of retinopathy

Diabetic ophthalmology is manifested by a change in the blood vessels in the retina, resulting in impaired microcirculation in it. Such a disorder leads to the emergence of diabetic retinopathy. Such a complication develops gradually and even in the later stages it can be almost imperceptible to humans.

The main signs of diabetic retinopathy are:

  • the emergence of "fly" before the eyes;
  • blurred vision;
  • reduced visual acuity in the later stages;
  • hemorrhages in the vitreous and retina.

In this case, diabetic ophthalmology can manifest itself in two main forms - non-proliferative (background) or proliferative retinopathy. With background retinopathy, the pathology concerns, first of all, the retina itself. When violations in the capillary vessels of the retina, hemorrhages, retinal edema, deposits of exchange products occur. Background retinopathy is characteristic of elderly patients with diabetes. It provokes a gradual decrease in visual acuity.

Based on the background, proliferative retinopathy develops, if the deficiency of oxygen supply to the retina continues to grow. In this case, the pathological formation of new blood vessels arising from the retina into the vitreous body occurs. This process leads to hemorrhages in the vitreous body and a sharp increase in the progression of visual impairment in a person and irreversible blindness. In adolescence, such a transition from one form to another can occur in a couple of months, followed by retinal detachment and complete lack of vision.

Signs of encephalopathy

Diabetic encephalopathy occurs as a complication of diabetes mellitus, due to diffuse degenerative brain damage. The prevalence of encephalopathy is directly dependent on the type of diabetes, and its symptoms depend on the duration of the course of the disease and its severity. It refers to late complications and manifests itself 10-15 years after the manifestation of diabetes mellitus.

Its immediate cause is metabolic disturbances typical of diabetes, resulting in damage to the brain tissue and blood vessels. The above processes lead to impaired brain activity, reduced cognitive functions. The development of encephalopathy occurs very slowly, which leads to the difficulty of identifying its symptoms in the early stages.

The main symptoms of diabetic encephalopathy are:

  • headaches and dizziness;
  • emotional instability, high fatigue, sleep disorders and other neurasthenic disorders;
  • instability gait person;
  • bifurcation of objects when looking at them, a nebula of view, the flickering of "flies" in front of the eyes;
  • mental, depressive disorders;
  • confused consciousness;
  • deterioration of mental activity, memory, ability to concentrate;
  • strokes, transient ischemic attacks, other pathologies of cerebral circulation;
  • the occurrence of seizures.

At the initial stages, there are practically no complications of the clinic, and with the development of encephalopathy, the symptoms begin to appear more clearly. Symptomatology is identical for both types of diabetes.

Frequent satellite diabetes are atherosclerosis, arterial hypertension and obesity. In connection with the obliteration of blood vessels in the event of atherosclerosis, the risk of ischemic strokes and heart attacks increases. When microcirculation is disturbed in the renal vessels, irreversible renal failure occurs, which eventually leads to a complete cessation of renal function. This, in turn, leads to the need for replacement therapy of renal failure by lifelong dialysis.

Diabetic coma

A diabetic coma is understood to be a serious violation of metabolic processes in the body of a patient suffering from diabetes. Coma can occur as with a strong increase, and with a strong decrease in blood sugar levels in humans. This condition requires urgent medical care, since in its absence serious complications and even death are possible.

Coma develops in stages, but rather rapidly. The first sign of falling into a coma can be a pre-unconscious state, a rapid increase in blood sugar, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, and painful sensations in the abdomen a day or more before the immediate coma. Another symptom of a diabetic coma may be a sharp smell of acetone from the patient's mouth. There may also be cramps, thirst, decreased sensitivity.

When hypoglycemic coma concentration of sugar in the blood decreases sharply.The indicator can reach up to 2.5 mmol per liter and below. Among the obvious symptoms of such a coma are unreasonable anxiety, the patient's fear, a feeling of weakness, convulsions, falling blood pressure, loss of consciousness. The harbingers of hypoglycemic coma can be:

  • general malaise;
  • lack of appetite;
  • diarrhea or constipation;
  • dizziness, headaches, tachycardia.

Lack of assistance in this condition can lead to extremely serious consequences. As the hypoglycemic coma develops rapidly, then the assistance should be rapidly.

Ordinary people can diagnose a diabetic coma by dramatically lowering blood pressure in a patient, weakening the pulse, and softness of the eyeballs. Only a qualified doctor can bring a person to life in this state, so an ambulance call should follow as soon as possible.

Laboratory signs

Reliably find out the patient's diagnosis is possible only after all the necessary laboratory tests. Any laboratory tests for diabetes are aimed at determining blood glucose values.

It is possible to accidentally detect blood sugar during mass examinations of a person before hospitalization or in case of emergency determination of other indicators.

The most common is a blood test for sugar, held on an empty stomach. Before its delivery, nothing can be eaten for 8-12 hours. You also can not drink alcohol and an hour before donating blood can not be smoked. In this case, a level up to 5.5 mmol per liter will be considered a normal indicator. If the indicator is equal to 7 mmol per liter, the patient will be sent for additional examination. To this end, conduct glucose tolerance testing. To do this, the patient gives blood on an empty stomach, then he drinks a glass of water with sugar (75 grams for an adult for 200 milliliters of water), and 2 hours later, he re-takes a blood test.

If the body is in a normal state, the first analysis will show the result to 5.5 mmol per liter, and the second - to 7.8 mmol per liter. If the figures are in the range of 5.5-6.7 and 7.8-11.1 mmol per liter, respectively, this will tell doctors about the development of prediabetes in the patient. Indicators exceeding these figures indicate diabetes.

It is also customary to conduct research on glycated hemoglobin, which demonstrates the average value of glucose in a person’s blood over the last 3 months of life. The rate is below 5.7%. If the value is in the range of 5.7-6.4%, then this suggests that there is a risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In this case, you should discuss with your doctor measures to reduce this risk. If the level of glycated hemoglobin is more than 6.5%, the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is likely, but it needs confirmation. The recommended level of glycated hemoglobin in people with diabetes is less than 7%, if this level is higher, it is necessary to discuss the situation with your doctor. Note that the level of glycated hemoglobin above 7% can be assessed by the doctor as optimal.

Symptoms in a child

Diabetes can manifest at any age, including early childhood. Even diabetes occurs in newborns. This is a rare case of the congenital nature of the disease. Most often, the manifestation in children accounts for 6-12 years. Metabolic processes in children during this period are much faster, and the state of the unformed nervous system can affect the level of glucose in the blood. The younger the baby, the more difficult the diabetes.

Among the main symptoms that parents need to pay attention to in order not to miss the development of diabetes, doctors point out in children:

  • thirst and dry mouth;
  • nausea with vomiting;
  • frequent urination with sticky urine;
  • weight loss and high appetite;
  • drop in visual acuity;
  • high fatigue, weakness and irritability.

If a child has at least one of the above symptoms, this is the reason for going to a doctor. If several symptoms are detected at the same time, a visit to the doctor should be prompt.

Also among the symptoms in children, typical and atypical signs of diabetes can occur. Doctors attribute polyuria to typical symptoms, which parents of toddlers often confuse with age-related urinary incontinence, polydipsia, polyphagia, dry and itchy skin, genital itching after urination, the amount of sugar in the blood is more than 5.5 mmol per liter in the fasting blood test. Timely diagnosis in case of suspicion will help identify the disease at an early stage and initiate the necessary therapy, which will not allow complications to develop.

Determination of diabetes at home

The course of diabetes can be completely asymptomatic. You can identify it at random when you visit an oculist or any other doctor. However, there are a lot of signs, according to which the presence of pathology can be guessed independently. At the same time at home you can quite accurately even determine the type of the disease.

When a healthy body after a meal in the blood sugar level increases. After 2-3 hours after this, this indicator should return to its original boundaries. If this does not happen, then a person has a number of symptoms, which can not be overlooked. This is already considered dry mouth, thirst, very frequent and abundant urination, increased appetite, apathy, convulsions, a nebula of consciousness. Gradually, the person begins to notice the dryness of the skin that previously did not show itself.

Also at home you can suspect the occurrence of diabetes by various strange sensations, which the person has not previously observed. In the second type of diabetes, it is a poor healing of wounds and scratches, the development of obesity. With the first type of pathology, a person, on the contrary, may lose weight dramatically, although the appetite is quite high. Also, for all types of the disease, itchy skin, increased growth of hair on the face, formation of xanthomas (small yellow growths on the skin), hair loss on the limbs and others may occur.

Timely detection of signs of diabetes should be a reason for seeking medical attention.

Only if you start the therapy of diabetes mellitus in the early stages, can we hope to compensate for the disease and normal quality of life in the future.

Article author:
Medvedeva Larisa Anatolevna

Specialty: therapist, nephrologist.

Total experience: 18 years.

Place of work: Novorossiysk, medical center "Nefros".

Education: 1994-2000 Stavropol State Medical Academy.


  1. 2014 - "Therapy" full-time advanced training courses on the basis of the State Budgetary Medical Educational Institution of Higher Professional Training "Kuban State Medical University".
  2. 2014 - "Nephrology" full-time refresher courses on the basis of the Stavropol State Medical University.
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