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Recognising the early symptoms of diabetes

It is important to recognise the early signs of diabetes so that you can speak to a doctor and take steps to help manage your blood sugar levels early on. Delays in treatment may lead to worsening of the disease and some complications.3

For more information you might find helpful, visit these pages

How to deal with stress when you have diabetes
3 min. read

How to deal with stress when you have diabetes

Here, I present 5 tips to take you safely through life’s stressful and anxious moments – and to help you feel more peaceful, confident and happy as you live your life with diabetes.

Early signs and symptoms of diabetes

The signs and symptoms of diabetes depend on the type of diabetes. Symptoms may appear suddenly (as in type 1 diabetes) or gradually over a period of time (as in type 2 diabetes). Complications may also arise later in life, without any evident symptoms.1,2

While type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ in their speed of onset and age, their symptoms are very similar, which include2:

  • Rapid and unintended weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme thirst 
  • Fatigue 
  • Constant feeling of hunger
  • Blurred vision 

Gestational diabetes

During pregnancy, any woman can develop high blood glucose levels, which disappears after birth. This is known as gestational diabetes (or hyperglycaemia at pregnancy). 2,4

Symptoms of gestational diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination 
  • Fatigue
  • Dryness in the mouth 

Diabetes in children

Approximately 1.2 million children and adolescents around the world live with type 1 diabetes. Additionally, type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents is on the rise. Children tend to develop symptoms quicker and more aggressively than adults. To learn more, read Children and Diabetes3,5

Are you aware of cardiovascular risk?

People with type 2 diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to someone living without diabetes.13,14

Learn how you can reduce the risk.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

If you exhibit any symptoms of diabetes, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Diabetes can be diagnosed by several kinds of tests, which will be recommended by a healthcare professional. Most often for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, a fasting plasma glucose test or an HbA1C test are used, but sometimes a random plasma glucose test may also be recommended.

These tests are blood tests that measure your blood glucose levels before and after meals, or at any given time of the day to check whether they are above the recommended threshold levels.3

Diagnosing gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is screened for in the second or third trimester of pregnancy (six to nine months) by an oral glucose tolerance test. 7

To find out more about please read Gestational diabetes.

Managing your symptoms after diagnosis

A diabetes diagnosis can be quite overwhelming in the beginning but there are many ways to help manage the condition. 

To learn more about life after your diabetes diagnosis, read Living with diabetes.

With the support of your family, friends and medical team, managing your condition can become part of everyday life. Motivation to manage your condition, education and technology can also assist this process. 

A balanced diet, regular exercise and blood tests will help you to  control your blood glucose levels. You can also monitor your blood glucose levels at home using a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor. Speak to your doctor about these meters and what you should expect when you monitor blood glucose at home. 1

To find out more, read Navigating treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Hyper- and hypoglycaemia

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you also have to look out for symptoms of hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose (sugar)) and hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose (sugar)). 

You will be able to detect hyperglycaemia in your blood glucose monitor if you use one. 9

Symptoms of hyperglycaemia
  • Increased thirst and a dry mouth 
  • Recurrent rashes and infections
  • Stomach aches 
  • Fruity breath
  • Blurred vision

If you are taking insulin to control your blood glucose levels, there is a chance that you may be affected by hypoglycaemia (also known as a ‘hypo’). Hypos can be dangerous and need immediate medical attention. 10

Symptoms of hypoglycaemia to look out for
  • Sweating 
  • Feeling tired and hungry 
  • Trembling 
  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Paleness 
  • Confusion and difficulty concentrating 
  • Blurred vision 

Read more about diabetes

Living with diabetes

Living with diabetes

Here you can find information that can support you in your daily life when living with diabetes. Find tips on how you control blood glucose and make lifestyle changes to manage your diabetes.

About diabetes

About diabetes

Learn more about diabetes type 1 and type 2 and the variation of symptoms. You can also find information about how diabetes type 2 can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Treatment for diabetes
1 min. read

Treatment for diabetes

If you want more information about treatment options for diabetes, you can visit this section. Learn which options are available for you. 


January 2024. IE23DI00194

  1. NHS UK. Diabetes. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetes/ Last accessed: May 2022.
  2. WHO. Diabetes. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes Last accessed: May 2022.
  3. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Atlas 10th Edition, 2021. Available from: https://diabetesatlas.org/idfawp/resource-files/2021/07/IDF_Atlas_10th_Edition_2021.pdf. Last accessed: May 2022.
  4. NHS. Gestational diabetes. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gestational-diabetes/ Last accessed: May 2022.
  5. Valaiyapathi B, Gower B and Ashraf AP. Pathophysiology of Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2020; 16:220–229.
  6. Reinehr T. Type 2 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents. World J Diabetes. 2013; 4:270–281.
  7. NIDDK. Diabetes Tests & Diagnosis. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/tests-diagnosis#type2 Last accessed: May 2022.
  8. NHS. Gestational diabetes treatment. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gestational-diabetes/treatment/ Last accessed: May 2022.
  9. American Diabetes Association. The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Sugar. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/blood-glucose-testing-and-control/checking-your-blood-sugar Last accessed: May 2022.
  10. NHS UK. Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-sugar-hyperglycaemia/ Last accessed: May 2022.
  11. NHS UK. Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-blood-sugar-hypoglycaemia/ Last accessed: May 2022.
  12. Mosenzon O, et al. CAPTURE: a multinational, cross-sectional study of cardiovascular disease prevalence in adults with type 2 diabetes across 13 countries. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2021; 20:154.
  13. Almdal T, Scharling H, Jensen JS, Vestergaard H. The independent effect of type 2 diabetes mellitus on ischemic heart disease, stroke, and death: a population-based study of 13,000 men and women with 20 years of follow-up. Arch Intern Med 2004; 164:1422–1426.
  14. Fox CS, Coady S, Sorlie PD, et al. Trends in cardiovascular complications of diabetes. JAMA 2004; 292:2495–2499.