The First Signs of Diabetes: A Guide to Signs for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

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Because the symptoms of diabetes can seem so minor, especially the early ones, they can allow the disease to go undiagnosed until it is further developed. Learning to recognize the first signs of diabetes can lead to early diagnosis and treatment, which help to prevent serious health risks and long-term damage.

There are several types of diabetes, and each may have its own unique early symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.


Thirst that is an ongoing issue for no apparent reason can be a symptom of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The patient may feel that this thirst is difficult to quench.

Frequent Urination

Frequent urination is a symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is generally unexplained, meaning it is not equivalent to the amount of liquid consumed, nor the frequency with which the liquid is consumed.

This symptom can commonly be most bothersome at night, with patients waking every several hours with the need to urinate, regardless of when they last consumed any beverages.

Blurred Vision

Most common with type 2 diabetes, blurred vision can come and go, usually in relation to high blood sugar levels. If no other causes are present such as other vision problems or conditions such as allergies, this symptom could indicate diabetes.


This symptom can be associated with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The irritability may be most noticeable to the people around the patient, who may get more upset by the suggestion that irritability is present.

This symptom will have no explanation (stress, life challenges, and monthly hormonal changes) and can be persistent or can fluctuate.


Fatigue can occur as a symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Patients experience a severe lack of energy, and of not being able to recover from that feeling, despite sleep and rest.

Slow Healing/Frequent Infections

Patients who have bruises, cuts or other wounds that are slow to heal may have diabetes. People who suffer from high blood sugar or diabetes may have difficulty warding off infections and illnesses. These are all signs of a weakened immune system and can indicate diabetes. These symptoms are usually associated with type 2 diabetes.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, this symptom can occur in a short amount of time and can be significant. If there is no other cause (dieting, illness, stress), it can indicate diabetes.

When to See a Physician

If more than one of the above first signs of diabetes appear, if any of the symptoms appear alone but are not going away or if the patient is at risk for diabetes, a physician should be consulted immediately.

It should be noted that according to the American Diabetes Association, “Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.” Anyone who is at risk of developing diabetes should consult with a physician in regards to how best to lower the risk and monitor his or her health status.


Hyperglycemia in Diabetes. Mayo Clinic Staff. March 23, 2010.

Diabetes Overview. Diabetes Health Center. WebMD.

Diabetes Basics: Symptoms. American Diabetes Association.