Classic Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes symptoms are determined primarily by the type and stage of diabetes. For instance, the onset of type 1 symptoms usually begins abruptly.

Also, the symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to occur much earlier (usually before age 30) than type 2.

On the other hand, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes usually occur gradually.

In the first ten years or so of the disease, symptoms develop gradually and may not even be noticeable.

Type 2 is the more common form of diabetes mellitus and affects approximately 90% of all diabetic patients. It also tends to occur later (after age 40) and peaks between ages 60 to 65. During its early stages, there may be no noticeable signs of diabetes. Some patients may only discover that they have this condition during routine medical check-up.

This underscores the importance of having regular (at least annual) medical evaluations. Diseases can be detected much earlier, which helps to facilitate more effective treatment and/ or management of certain conditions, such as diabetes mellitus.

During its early stages, when the symptoms of diabetes have not yet been manifested, there can be considerable damage to the body's organs. In some cases, when diabetes symptoms become noticeable, the damage to some organs can be so extensive that treatment or management becomes much more difficult. For instance, there could be irreversible damage to the eyes, heart and kidneys.

Common Symptoms of Diabetes

When the body has inadequate amounts of insulin or is unable to effectively use insulin, the metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrate is affected. Classic diabetes symptoms include the following:

  1. Increased thirst - This is referred to, in medical terms, as polydipsia.

  2. Excessive urine output - Medically, this is known as polyuria. On average, a healthy person passes about 1 to 2 liters of urine per day. Diabetics, on the other hand, often pass up to 10 to 15 liters of urine per day.

    Normally, when the kidneys filter the blood plasma, they usually return all glucose to the blood and only covert excess water and other waste products into urine. There should therefore, be little or no glucose in the urine of a healthy person.

    With diabetic patients, however, glucose enters the kidneys so rapidly that they are unable to return all of it to the blood. Consequently, excess glucose passes into the urine. Excess glucose in the kidneys draws excess water from the body (by a process called osmosis). Consequently, large amounts of water are passed into the urine.

    This explains why diabetic patients usually pass large amounts of urine, which can result in dehydration and polydipsia (intense thirst).

  3. Increased appetite - The medical term for this is polyphagia.

  4. Unexplained weight loss - This is also related to the loss of excess water in the body due to polyuria (excess urine output) and the poor metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrate.

  5. Fatigue - Due to the inefficient use of glucose by the body and the ineffective metabolism of fat and protein.

  6. Blurred vision - The eyes and other organs can be damaged by diabetes mellitus.

  7. The loss of feeling in the hands or feet - This is caused by long-term neurological damage. Nerve damage (known as diabetic neuropathy) is a common long-term symptom of diabetes and can also lead to impotence and urinary incontinence.

  8. In the early stages, female patients, in particular, may experience urinary tract infections and genital itching. These are classic early signs of diabetes in women.

If you experience a number of the above "classic" diabetes symptoms, please check with your doctor. It is always advisable to check with your doctor regularly (at least once a year) for a full medical evaluation. This will increase the chances of early detection of diabetes mellitus (and other diseases); even before the classic diabetes symptoms become noticeable.